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Electrotherapy treatment for haemorrhoids

Electrotherapy is sometimes wrongly described as an electric shock treatment for haemorroids. Whilst it is correct that electricity is used, the level is so low that it could never be described as an electric shock. The procedure is exclusively used for the treatment of internal piles which provides an option for patients with grade 1 or 2 haemorrhoids who may otherwise have opted for banding or sclerotherapy or for patients with more severe grade 3 or 4 haemorrhoids as an alternative to surgery.

The main benefits of the electrical treatment for haemorrhoids is the convenience of the procedure and the lack of required downtime after treatment for most patients. Electrotherapy may be relatively new to the UK, but it has already proven to be an effective alternative to some of the more well-known haemorrhoid treatments.

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What does the treatment involve?

The procedure is carried out with the patient lying on their side, with their knees slightly bent. Whilst in this position a proctoscope (a small plastic tube) is inserted into the patient’s bottom to enable a clear view of the haemorrhoid(s). A thin probe with metal contacts is then inserted down the proctoscope and placed at the base of the haemorrhoid to be treated, at which point a low-level electric current is delivered. This causes chemical cauterisation and thrombosis of the blood vessels feeding into the haemorrhoid; this is not a burning process.

The low-level electric current is controlled by a hand piece connected to the probe which enables the specialist to increase or decrease the current dependent on the tolerance of the patient. The duration of the treatment depends on the grade of haemorrhoid and the current delivered.

Electrotherapy for hemorrhoids is an outpatient treatment and requires no anaesthetic.

After treatment

You will notice the piles shrinking for a week or longer and your symptoms will normally diminish.

What are the risks with electrotherapy treatment?

Please note that no treatment for haemorrhoids is 100% safe or 100% effective for all patients, and eXroid is no exception— there are some risk with even the safest and most effective treatment.

Rectal bleeding can be a side effect, but this is usually short lived. Following treatment, there may be bleeding from the bottom, which is more likely if there has been recent bleeding from the piles. Some patients will experience sensitivity of the skin on their left hip for up to 48 hours following treatment, where the saline soaked Sponge pad rests during the eXroid treatment. Other side effects and complications are very rare or have not been reported, but could include more prolonged discomfort or pain, an external thrombosed pile, infections, scarring, strictures or perforation of the bowel.

Based on the patients who’ve shared their experience following our treatment, most reported a return to normal activities immediately and 90% reported a return to normal activities on the same day. Where there is any post treatment pain it is usually eased with simple OTC analgesics such as paracetamol. The procedure has been proven to be virtually complication free.

NICE evaluation and evidence Base

After noting its effectiveness and low complication rate, NICE published positive guidance for electrotherapy hemorrhoid treatment through Interventional Procedure Guidance (IPG) 525 in June 2015.

Haemorrhoid electrotherapy may require more than one treatment; however, about half of the patients treated are free of symptoms after one treatment session, and over 80% after two. Patients with more numerous and/or larger haemorrhoids may need more than three treatments to get complete relief.  Electrotherapy for haemorrhoids causes less discomfort and less side effects than generally reported figures in the literature compared with banding or higher current electrotherapy, which suggests that it is likely to be one of the best tolerated non-surgical procedures available.

Sources:

Norman DA, Newton R, Nicholas GV. Direct current electrotherapy of internal hemorrhoids: an effective, safe, and painless outpatient approach. Am J Gastroenterol 1989: 84(5): 482-487.

Olatoke S, Adeoti M, Agodirin O, Ajape A, Agbola J. Direct current electrotherapy for internal haemorrhoids: experience in a tertiary health institution. Pan Afr Med J 2014; 18: 145-150.

Nikooiyan P, Sardo HM, Poursaeidi B, Zaherara M, Ahmadi B. Evaluating the safety, efficacy and complications of electrotherapy and its comparison with conventional method of hemorrhoidectomy. Gastroenterol Hepatol Bed Bench 2016 Autumn; 9(4): 259-267.

Is low current effective for piles?

Electrotherapy is a highly effective treatment for piles. Half of patients were cleared of their haemorrhoid after one treatment session, and over 80% after two. Larger piles may require more than two treatments. The number of treatments you need largely depends on how many piles you have and how big they are.

DID YOU KNOW

Electrotherapy treatment for piles has been around for more than 150 years

Think you may have haemorrhoids?

Find out about NHS treatment restrictions

Find Out More

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