Haemorrhoidectomy (Surgery for piles)
Haemorrhoids, also known as piles, are swellings that contain enlarged blood vessels that are found inside or around the bottom (the rectum and anus).
Most haemorrhoids are mild and sometimes don’t even cause symptoms. When there are symptoms, these usually include:
- bleeding after passing a stool (the blood will be bright red)
- itchy bottom
- a lump hanging down outside of the anus, which may need to be pushed back in after passing a stool
A haemorrhoidectomy is an operation to remove haemorrhoids. It is usually carried out under general anaesthetic, which means you will be asleep during the procedure and won’t feel any pain while it is carried out. This type of surgery may be recommended if other treatments for piles (haemorrhoids) have not been successful, or if you have haemorrhoids that are not suitable for non-surgical treatment.
A conventional haemorrhoidectomy involves gently opening the anus so the haemorrhoids can be cut out. You will need to take a week or so off work to recover.
You will probably experience significant pain after the operation, but you will be given painkillers. You may still have pain a few weeks after the procedure, which can also be controlled with painkillers. Seek medical advice if you have pain that continues for longer.
After having a haemorrhoidectomy, there is around a 1 in 20 chance of the haemorrhoids returning, which is lower than with non-surgical treatments. Adopting or continuing a high-fibre diet after surgery is recommended to reduce this risk.
Haemorrhoidal artery ligation (HALO)
Haemorrhoidal artery ligation (HALO) is an operation to reduce the blood flow to your haemorrhoids.
It’s usually carried out under general anaesthetic and involves inserting a small device, which has a Doppler ultrasound probe attached, into your anus. This probe produces high-frequency sound waves that allow the surgeon to locate the blood vessels in and around your anal canal. These blood vessels supply blood to the haemorrhoid.
Each blood vessel is then stitched closed, to block the blood supply to the haemorrhoid. This causes the haemorrhoid to shrink over the following days and weeks. The stitches can also be used to reduce prolapsing haemorrhoids (haemorrhoids that hang down from the anus).
Most people are able to return to their normal activities much sooner than with other surgical procedures.
There is a low risk of bleeding, pain when passing stools or the haemorrhoid becoming prolapsed after this procedure, but these usually improve within a few weeks.