Symptomatic hemorrhoids: Current incidence and complications of operative therapy

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Abstract

Hemorrhoidal disease affects more than one million Americans per year. We reviewed the treatment pattern for patients who presented with symptomatic hemorrhoids to our large university-affiliated group practice over a 66-month period. Over 21,000 patients presented to the practice with bleeding, thrombosis, or prolapse. Only 9.3 percent of patients required operative therapy. Conservative therapy was given to 45.2 percent of patients, while rubber band ligation was performed on 44.8 percent of patients. We retrospectively reviewed the complications and length of stay for a subset of patients undergoing operative therapy during the 66-month study period. Postoperative urinary complications (retention or infection) were seen in 20.1 percent of patients. Delayed hemorrhage was seen in 2.4 percent of patients. In-hospital length of stay was 2.5 days, which is approximately two days less than the length of stay found in a similar review of our practice in 1978. We conclude that over 90 percent of symptomatic hemorrhoids can be treated conservatively or with rubber band ligation, and, as surgery is reserved for only the most severe cases, complication rates may not decrease. However, we expect that in-hospital length of stay will continue to decrease over the ensuing years.

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