Infrared photocoagulation (also called
coagulation therapy) is a medical procedure used to treat small- and
medium-sized hemorrhoids. This treatment is only for internal hemorrhoids. During the procedure, the doctor uses a device that
creates an intense beam of infrared light. Heat created by the infrared light
causes scar tissue, which cuts off the blood supply to the hemorrhoid. The
hemorrhoid dies, and a scar forms on the wall of the anal canal. The scar
tissue holds nearby veins in place so they don't bulge into the anal
Only one hemorrhoid can be treated at a time. Other
hemorrhoids may be treated at 10- to 14-day intervals.
medical procedure may be done with other devices, such as a
laser or electrical current, that also cut off a
hemorrhoid's blood supply.
Infrared photocoagulation is done in a
doctor's office. You may feel heat and some pain during the procedure.
Afterward, you may have a sensation of fullness in the lower abdomen. Or you
may feel as if you need to have a bowel movement.
What To Expect After Treatment
Bleeding from the anus occurs 7 to 10
days after the procedure, when the hemorrhoid falls off. Bleeding is usually
slight and stops by itself.
- You may use mild pain relievers and sit in a
shallow tub of warm water (sitz bath) for 15 minutes at a time to relieve
- To reduce the risk of bleeding, avoid taking aspirin
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for 4 to
5 days both before and after infrared coagulation.
- Doctors recommend that you take stool softeners that contain fiber to
ensure smooth bowel movements. If you strain during bowel movements,
hemorrhoids can come back.
Why It Is Done
Doctors recommend coagulation
therapy in cases where small internal hemorrhoids continue to cause symptoms
after home treatment.
How Well It Works
Infrared photocoagulation works for about 7 to 10 out of 10 people who have it. But improvements may not last. And 2 out of 10 people may need surgery.1
Risks of coagulation therapy include:
- Considerable pain during the procedure.
- Bleeding from the anus.
- Infection in the anal
- Temporary inability to urinate.
What To Think About
The success of coagulation
therapy depends largely on the doctor's expertise and your ability to make
changes in daily bowel habits that will make passing stools easier.
Coagulation therapy is expensive. But it costs less than surgery
that requires a hospital stay and time away from work.
doctors have the experience or the equipment needed to do coagulation
therapy. This may help you decide which procedure to choose. Ask your doctor
which procedure he or she has done the most, how many times he or she has done
the procedure, and how satisfied people have been with the outcomes.
Lasers have not been proved to be more effective than other forms of
treatment. Procedures using lasers are much more expensive, take longer, and
may damage surrounding tissue and cause more scarring.
Complete the special treatment information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this treatment.
Reese GE, et al. (2009). Haemorrhoids, search date May 2008. Online version of BMJ Clinical Evidence: http://www.clinicalevidence.com.
Primary Medical ReviewerAnne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerKenneth Bark, MD - General Surgery, Colon and Rectal Surgery
Current as ofNovember 14, 2014