Infrared coagulation therapy is a procedure used to treat small or mid-sized internal hemorrhoids. It is performed with the use of a probe which creates an intense infrared light. The infrared light then transmits heat and energy to the hemorrhoids, which then leads to scar tissue formation. The scar tissue cuts off the blood supply to the hemorrhoids making them less prone to swelling and causing symptoms such as bleeding, pain or itching.
The procedure can be performed in the doctor’s office or in the ambulatory endoscopy center. It can be performed in conjunction with other procedures such as an endoscopy or colonoscopy. The only preparation that is sometimes required is an enema before the procedure unless the IRC is being done with a colonoscopy in which case the colonoscopy preparation is adequate.
Patients are placed on their left side. The procedure can be performed with or without intravenous sedation. An anoscope (plastic device used to keep anus slightly open) is gently inserted through the anal canal. The physician will then use the infrared probe to treat the internal hemorrhoids. The procedure takes about 5 to 10 minutes.
The procedure is generally well tolerated by patients. Bleeding from the anus can occur up to 7 to 10 days after the procedure, but usually will stop on its own without any further treatment. After IRC, physicians generally will advise patients to take stool softeners and fiber supplements to prevent straining and constipation, which can aggravate hemorrhoids. To relieve any discomfort from the procedure, patients can take a sitz bath (sit in warm tub of water for 15 minutes) and mild pain relievers to relieve any discomfort from the procedure.
Risks from IRC are low, but can include bleeding or infection at the anus, anorectal pain, or a temporary inability to urinate.
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