Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery MBChB (UCT).
Fellow of South African College of Surgeons
Diploma in Obstetrics & Gynaecology
Haemorrhoids / Haemorrhoidectomy
What are haemorrhoids?
Haemorrhoids, also termed "piles," are swollen veins around the anus. Haemorrhoids can also form inside the rectum. These swollen veins, similar to varicose veins, resemble red lumps and, in most cases, resolve over time. In some instances, however, minor haemorrhoid surgery is needed to remove these bumps.
What are some of the causes of haemorrhoids?
Veins dilate once you put pressure on the rectum. Increased strain during bowel movements and extended sitting periods can lead to the formation of haemorrhoids.
Some other causes of haemorrhoids include:
- Lack of fibre in your diet
- Chronic constipation
- Chronic diarrhoea
- Inadequate posture or spinal cord injuries
What are the signs of haemorrhoids?
Haemorrhoids can either be internal or external. Usually, internal haemorrhoids are too small or deep within the skin to be seen. Haemorrhoids, however, may prolapse and protrude from under the skin.
Signs of haemorrhoids include:
- Burning, itching or pain
- Lumps around the anal surface
- Bowel discomfort
- Bleeding near the anus
Dr Mitchell performs a visual inspection to check for external or prolapsed haemorrhoids. She conducts a series of tests that include a digital rectal exam and colonoscopy to check for signs of growths in the rectum. These tests include:
- Visual examination: Dr Mitchell inspects the anal region to check for external or prolapsed haemorrhoids.
- Digital rectal exam: The doctor inserts a protected finger into the rectum to check for internal haemorrhoids.
- Colonoscopy: Dr Mitchell performs a colonoscopy to check for abnormal growths and diagnoses colon disorders.
The haemorrhoid surgeon performs a haemorrhoidectomy or rubber band ligation to remove haemorrhoids. She will first check if there are any signs of internal haemorrhoids through a proctoscopy before she performs haemorrhoid surgery.
Rubber band ligation, a form of haemorrhoid surgery, aims to cut off blood supply at the base of the haemorrhoid. The doctor first uses a device called an "anoscope" to grasp the haemorrhoid and then places a rubber band around the haemorrhoid. The restricted blood flow to the growth causes it to shrink and disappear.
You will experience pain after a haemorrhoidectomy. You will notice pain for weeks that becomes worse with bowel movement. Within the first seven days after the surgical procedure, you will experience intense discomfort that will eventually diminish over time. Rubber band ligation is not as painful and usually lasts only for a few days.
Dr Mitchell prescribes numbing creams or gels to alleviate pain around the anus. She will also recommend rest, light exercises, plenty of fluids and a high fibre diet.
Contact Dr Mitchell if you experience symptoms that include:
- Excessive bleeding for two days or more
- Pus drainage
Please note: The information provided above and on this website is for education and interest purposes only. It is not intended to replace a personal one-on-one consultation, nor is it meant to substitute professional medical advice, diagnose or treat any condition. A consultation with a specialist and qualified health care provider such as Dr Mitchell is essential for correct diagnosis and management, as well as to answer any queries that you may have. Never disregard or delay in seeking professional medical advice due to something you have read on this website. Dr Mitchell takes no responsibility for any errors or omissions present on this website and is not liable for any consequences that may occur from misinterpretation of the information on this website. In the event of uncertainty or an emergency, please visit your nearest casualty.