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Infrared Coagulation Therapy – Does IRC Really Work for Hemorrhoids?

Posted on 06 April 2018 by

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Has your doctor recommended the Infrared Coagulation Therapy for your hemorrhoids? In this post we reveal if Infrared Coagulation Therapy really works, is safe, and also let you know if there are any other procedures or surgeries that are better for hemorrhoids.

What is Infrared Coagulation Therapy (IRC)? 

Infrared Coagulation Therapy (IRC) is a popular non-operative procedure for hemorrhoids. A doctor will use infrared light to burn away your hemorrhoid.

Your hemorrhoid doctor will use a device that shines a powerful beam of light at extremely high temperatures. The light will burn away your hemorrhoid and leave a scar.

IRC is not available for use on external hemorrhoids or Grade 4 internal hemorrhoids.

It is commonly used on Grade 1 and Grade 2 internal hemorrhoids and occasionally used on Grade 3 internal hemorrhoids.

Infrared Coagulation Therapy is good to use for minor cases of internal hemorrhoids that have not gone away with changes in diet, exercise, or the addition of fiber supplementation.

Often times your doctor will want you to address constipation and diarrhea in order to stop your hemorrhoids without surgery or a procedure.

It is common for your physician to recommend non-operative procedures prior to suggesting full on hemorrhoid surgery, unless you have a severe case of internal prolapsed hemorrhoids (Grade 4) or a large external thrombosed hemorrhoid.

Infrared Coagulation Therapy vs Rubber Band Ligation vs Sclerotherapy

Infrared Coagulation Therapy patients have less post-procedure pain than Rubber Band Ligation patients (1). 

With Banding, however, the hemorrhoids go away quicker and come back less frequently (2). 

Infrared Coagulation Therapy is more effective than Sclerotherapy in treating hemorrhoids in Grade 1 or Grade 2 cases (not Grade 3) (3). 

The most common types of non-operative hemorrhoid procedures include:

  • Infrared Coagulation Therapy
  • Rubber Band Ligation
  • Sclerotherapy

Common hemorrhoid surgeries include:

How Does IRC Work for Hemorrhoids? 

A doctor will use a scope to check your colon and anus for hemorrhoids. When you present with hemorrhoids, it is very usual to exhibit some bleeding.

The first thing the doctor when you present with hemorrhoid bleeding is make sure to rule out any other severe conditions or diseases like anal cancer. 

Using a scope, your doctor will check to make sure you actually have hemorrhoids.

Once you have been diagnosed with hemorrhoids, your doctor will suggest Infrared Coagulation Therapy if you are a good candidate for the procedure. 

Infrared Coagulation Therapy is only available for sufferers of internal hemorrhoids. If you have external hemorrhoids, you will have to seek other hemorrhoid treatment options.

Infrared Coagulation Therapy Recovery Time (Hemorrhoids) 

Clinical research has shown that most patients recover from an IRC procedure within 7-10 days. Bleeding can occur after your procedure so be sure to let your doctor know immediately if you experience bleeding.

Speak with your doctor if you are on any blood thinners. Also, try to stay away from Aspirin or NSAID’s after the procedure so that your bleeding isn’t increased.

Here are the most common symptoms and side effects of IRC for hemorrhoids:

  1. Hemorrhoid bleeding
  2. Severe pain
  3. Lower abdominal pain
  4. Dizziness or Nausea
  5. Pain when sitting
  6. Troublesome bowel movements 

Side effects are not very frequent with Infrared Coagulation Therapy procedures (4). 

Your hemorrhoid doctor or colorectal surgeon may suggest you take a fiber supplement after your procedure to avoid constipation.

Constipation can cause straining during bowel movements, which can be a cause of hemorrhoid bleeding.

You’ll want to avoid hemorrhoid bleeding post-procedure.

Your skin will scar up where the burning occurred. This is normal and can help prevent future hemorrhoids from forming in that location.

However, only 1 hemorrhoid can be worked on at a single time. 

If you have multiple hemorrhoids, your physician will recommend you wait 14 days or possibly use Rubber Band Ligation to treat them all at the same time.

A New Infrared Coagulation Therapy Procedure for Hemorrhoids

Recently, some doctors have changed the way an IRC procedure is done for hemorrhoids.

Diagnosis of hemorrhoids often involves your doctor using a scope to locate your hemorrhoids. An Endoscope is most commonly used to diagnose hemorrhoids.

After the endoscope is performed, your doctor would then perform the Infrared Coagulation Therapy procedure. 

However, this was time consuming since it involves the doctor completing 2 procedures (Endoscopy and IRC).

In the last few years, doctors have developed an endoscope that has the ability to perform the IRC procedure during diagnosis (5). 

This newer endoscope device is used to diagnose hemorrhoids and treat hemorrhoids.

Once your doctor confirms your internal hemorrhoid is treatable by IRC, he or she will use the end of the Endoscope to burn away your hemorrhoid with an intense beam of infrared light. 

While you will experience excruciating hemorrhoid pain, your post-operative recovery will be less painful than a Hemorrhoidectomy or Rubber Band Ligation.

This way the doctor and the patient are saved time and money (6). 

Types of Hemorrhoid Surgeries or Procedures

  • Hemorrhoidectomy – A hemorrhoidectomy is a surgery where the internal or external hemorrhoid is cut out. Bleeding is a common post-operative issue (7).
  • Stapled Hemorrhoidectomy (PPH) – This procedure is very similar to the hemorrhoidectomy, except that it uses a stapling device to cut out the hemorrhoid (8).
  • Rubber Band Ligation (Banding) – In this non-operative procedure, a doctor will tie a rubber band around the base of your hemorrhoid, which eventually falls off and dies (9).

Infrared Coagulation Therapy Review

While it sounds very painful, some studies have shown that Infrared Coagulation Therapy is less painful after the procedure when compared to other non-operative procedures.

Some procedures, like a Rubber Band Ligation, work better than others depending on the type, size, and location of your hemorrhoid (10). 

In addition, some patients may not be a good candidate for certain surgeries or procedures depending on their medical history and conditions.

Infrared Coagulation Therapy is a great options for Grade 1 or 2 internal hemorrhoids, and may be a good option for Grade 3 internal hemorrhoids.

Infrared Coagulation Cost

The cost of infrared coagulation therapy usually runs about $500 to $1600. Rubber Band Ligation is a cheaper option depending on the number of visits you will have to make to the doctors office.

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