A Randomized, Prospective, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial of the Effect of a Calcium Channel Blocker Ointment on Pain After Hemorrhoidectomy


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Abstract

PURPOSE:Spasm of the internal sphincter plays a role in hemorrhoidal disease and may be a source of anal pain after hemorrhoid surgery. We have evaluated the effects of topical diltiazem, a calcium channel blocker, in reducing pain after hemorrhoidectomy.METHODS:After hemorrhoidectomy, 18 patients were randomly assigned to receive 2 percent diltiazem ointment (n = 9) or a placebo ointment (n = 9). Ointments were applied to the perianal region three times daily for seven days. Patients were prescribed hydrocodone bitartrate (Vicodin ®) to take as needed. The type and number of prescribed or nonprescribed medications taken during the postoperative period were recorded. Patients maintained a log to measure postoperative pain daily and perceived benefit of the ointment, using a Visual Analog Scale ranging from 0 to 10. Any postoperative morbidity noted during the follow-up period was recorded.RESULTS:Patients using the diltiazem ointment had significantly less pain and greater benefit than those in the placebo group throughout the first postoperative week. Postoperative pain scores in the placebo group averaged 8.8 ± 1.2 early and diminished to 5.2 ± 1.7 at the end of one week, compared to the diltiazem group of 5.2 ± 2.4 early and 2.3 ± 1.2 at the end of one week (P< 0.001, both time periods). Perceived benefit in the placebo group averaged 2.7 ± 1.2vs. 5.6 ± 1.4 in the diltiazem group (P< 0.001). Total and daily narcotic use was higher in the placebo group, but this was not statistically significant (P= 0.13). No differences in the frequency of use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and acetaminophen were seen between the two groups, and there were no differences in morbidity between the two groups.CONCLUSIONS:Perianal application of 2 percent diltiazem ointment after hemorrhoidectomy significantly reduces postoperative pain and is perceived as beneficial, with no increase in associated morbidity. Patients using a placebo ointment tend to take more prescription narcotics for pain relief postoperatively, with a similar usage of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and acetaminophen, although differences were not significant.

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