NEW, LESS PAINFUL SURGERY FOR HEMORRHOIDS
Hemorrhoids may be the butt of jokes, yet about half of the people in the United States will suffer from hemorrhoids at some time in their lives, usually after age 30.
The symptoms of hemorrhoids - ranging from itching and bleeding to protrusion and pain - can often be controlled by a high-fiber diet, stool softeners and warm baths. For severe hemorrhoids, however, surgical removal is usually the best option. While highly successful, the surgery is painful, requiring hospitalization, strong analgesics and up to two weeks leave from work.
Now, colorectal surgeons at the University of Illinois at Chicago are testing a new procedure called stapled hemorrhoidectomy that causes significantly less pain than traditional hemorrhoid surgery.
"Results to date have been excellent," said Dr. Herand Abcarian, chairman of surgery at UIC.
Sixty-eight patients have undergone the procedure at UIC and Washington University, in St. Louis, Mo. At a recent meeting of the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons, Abcarian reported that the procedure proved successful in controlling symptoms. Most patients experienced mild postoperative pain. Twenty percent of the patients returned to work one day after the operation and 99 percent of the patients made a full recovery within seven days.
The surgery is done with a stapling device, manufactured by Ethicon Endo-Surgery, which has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The procedure returns the dilated veins to their normal location and staples them in place, which eliminates symptoms such as bleeding, protrusion and itching. The stapling occurs inside the rectum, where there are no sensory nerves, whereas the traditional hemorrhoidectomy leaves up to three wounds in the highly sensitive area around the anus.
A total of 400 patients with protruding hemorrhoids will be enrolled in the current trial, taking place at 12 colorectal centers in the United States, including UIC, the only site in the Chicago area. The study will compare the levels of postoperative pain and recurrence of hemorrhoidal symptoms in patients who will undergo either a traditional or a stapled hemorrhoidectomy.
Hemorrhoids, commonly described as varicose veins of the anus and rectum, are large, bulging blood vessels. The tissue holding these veins in place deteriorates, and with the stretching and shearing forces of defecation, the thin-walled veins protrude through the anus and bleed easily. While the cause of hemorrhoids is unknown, contributory factors include aging, pregnancy and constipation.
Candidates for the trial surgery can contact the UIC Division of Colorectal Surgery at (312) 355-1736.
For more information on the UIC Department of Surgery, visit www.uic.edu/com/surgery/_private/
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