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definitions - Hemorrhoid

hemorrhoid (n.)

1.pain caused by venous swelling at or inside the anal sphincter

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synonyms - Hemorrhoid

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see also - Hemorrhoid

hemorrhoid (n.)


analogical dictionary



Classification and external resources

Schematic demonstrating the anatomy of hemorrhoids
ICD-10 I84
ICD-9 455
DiseasesDB 10036
MedlinePlus 000292
eMedicine med/2821 emerg/242
MeSH D006484

Hemorrhoids (US English) or haemorrhoids (UK play /ˈhɛmərɔɪdz/), are vascular structures in the anal canal which help with stool control.[1][2] They become pathological or piles[3] when swollen or inflamed. In their physiological state, they act as a cushion composed of arterio-venous channels and connective tissue that aid the passage of stool. The symptoms of pathological hemorrhoids depend on the type present. Internal hemorrhoids usually present with painless rectal bleeding while external hemorrhoids present with pain in the area of the anus.

Recommended treatment consists of increasing fiber intake, oral fluids to maintain hydration, NSAID analgesics, sitz baths, and rest. Surgery is reserved for those who fail to improve following these measures.[4]



There are two types of hemorrhoids, external and internal, which are differentiated via their position with respect to the dentate line.[3]


External hemorrhoids are those that occur below the dentate line. They may actually be concealed from view however. Specifically, they are varicosities of the veins draining the territory of the inferior rectal arteries, which are branches of the internal pudendal artery. They are sometimes painful, and often accompanied by swelling and irritation. Itching, although often thought to be a symptom of external hemorrhoids, is more commonly due to skin irritation. The skin irritation may be brought about by the inflammation of the external hemorrhoid which in turn leads to a barely noticeable watery discharge and skin irritation. External hemorrhoids are prone to thrombosis: if the vein ruptures and/or a blood clot develops, the hemorrhoid becomes a thrombosed hemorrhoid.[5]


Internal hemorrhoids are those that occur above the dentate line. Specifically, they are varicosities of veins draining the territory of branches of the superior rectal arteries. As this area lacks pain receptors, internal hemorrhoids are usually not painful and most people are not aware that they have them. Internal hemorrhoids, however, may bleed when irritated. Untreated internal hemorrhoids can lead to two severe forms of hemorrhoids: prolapsed and strangulated hemorrhoids. Prolapsed hemorrhoids are internal hemorrhoids that are so distended that they are pushed outside the anus. If the anal sphincter muscle goes into spasm and traps a prolapsed hemorrhoid outside the anal opening, the supply of blood is cut off, and the hemorrhoid becomes a strangulated hemorrhoid.

Internal hemorrhoids can be further graded by the degree of prolapse.[3][6]

  • Grade I: No prolapse.
  • Grade II: Prolapse upon defecation but spontaneously reduce.
  • Grade III: Prolapse upon defecation and must be manually reduced.
  • Grade IV: Prolapsed and cannot be manually reduced.

Signs and symptoms

  External hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids are usually present with itching, rectal pain, and rectal bleeding.[2] Other symptoms include mucous discharge and fecal incontinence.[7] In most cases, symptoms will resolve within a few days. External hemorrhoids are painful, while internal hemorrhoids usually are not unless they become thrombosed or necrotic.[2][3]

The most common symptom of internal hemorrhoids is bright red blood covering the stool, a condition known as hematochezia, on toilet paper, or in the toilet bowl.[2] They may protrude through the anus. Symptoms of external hemorrhoids include painful swelling and a lump around the anus.


A number of factors may lead to the formations of hemorrhoids including irregular bowel habits (constipation or diarrhea), exercise, nutrition (low-fiber diet), increased intra-abdominal pressure (prolonged straining), pregnancy, genetics, absence of valves within the hemorrhoidal veins, and aging.[3]

Other factors that can increase the rectal vein pressure resulting in hemorrhoids include obesity and sitting for long periods of time.[8]

During pregnancy, pressure from the fetus on the abdomen and hormonal changes cause the hemorrhoidal vessels to enlarge. Delivery also leads to increased intra-abdominal pressures.[9][10] Surgical treatment is rarely needed, as symptoms usually resolve post delivery.[3]


Hemorrhoid cushions are a part of normal human anatomy and only become a pathological disease when they experience abnormal changes. There are three cushions present in the normal anal canal.[3]

They are important for continence, contributing to at rest 15–20% of anal closure pressure and act to protect the anal sphincter muscles during the passage of stool.[2]


The best way to prevent hemorrhoids is to keep stools soft so they pass easily, thus decreasing pressure and straining, and to empty bowels as soon as possible after the urge occurs. Exercise, including walking, and increased fiber in the diet help reduce constipation and straining by producing stools that are softer and easier to pass.[11] Spending less time attempting to defecate and avoiding reading while on the toilet have been recommended.[3]


A visual examination of the anus and surrounding area may be able to diagnose external or prolapsed hemorrhoids. A rectal exam may be performed to detect possible rectal tumors, polyps, an enlarged prostate, or abscesses. This examination may not be possible without appropriate sedation due to pain, although most internal hemorrhoids are not present with pain.[3]

Visual confirmation of internal hemorrhoids is via anoscopy or proctoscopy. This device is basically a hollow tube with a light attached at one end that allows one to see the internal hemorrhoids, as well as possible polyps in the rectum.


Many anorectal problems, including fissures, fistulae, abscesses, colorectal cancer, rectal varices and itching have similar symptoms and may be incorrectly referred to as hemorrhoids.[3]


  11th century English miniature. On the right is an operation to remove hemorrhoids.

Conservative treatment typically consists of increasing dietary fiber, oral fluids to maintain hydration, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID)s, sitz baths, and rest.[3] Increased fiber intake has been shown to improve outcomes,[12] and may be achieved by dietary alterations or the consumption of fiber supplements.[3][12]

While many topical agents and suppositories are available for the treatment of hemorrhoids, there is little evidence to support their use.[3] Steroid containing agents should not be used for more than 14 days as they may cause thinning of the skin.[3] Skin protectants such as petroleum jelly or zinc oxide cream may potentially reduce injury and itching.[13]


  • Rubber band ligation is a procedure in which elastic bands are applied onto an internal hemorrhoid at least 1 cm above the dentate line to cut off its blood supply. Within 5–7 days, the withered hemorrhoid falls off. If the band is placed too close to the dentate line, intense pain results immediately afterwards.[3] Cure rate has been found to be about 87%.[3]
  • Sclerotherapy involves the injection of a sclerosing agent, such as phenol, into the hemorrhoid. This causes the vein walls to collapse and the hemorrhoids to shrivel up. The success rate four years after treatment is 70%.[3]
  • A number of cauterization methods have been shown to be effective for hemorrhoids, but are usually only used when other methods fail. This can be done using electrocautery, infrared radiation, laser surgery,[3] or cryosurgery.[14]

A number of surgical techniques may be used if conservative medical management fails. All are associated with some degree of complications including urinary retention, due to the close proximity to the rectum of the nerves that supply the bladder, bleeding, infection, and anal strictures.[3]

  • Hemorrhoidectomy is a surgical excision of the hemorrhoid used primarily only in severe cases.[3] It is associated with significant post-operative pain and usually requires 2–4 weeks for recovery.[3]
  • Doppler-guided, transanal hemorrhoidal dearterialization is a minimally invasive treatment using an ultrasound doppler to accurately locate the arterial blood inflow. These arteries are then "tied off" and the prolapsed tissue is sutured back to its normal position. It has a slightly higher recurrence rate, but fewer complications compared to a hemorrhoidectomy.[3]
  • Stapled hemorrhoidectomy, or, more properly, stapled hemorrhoidopexy, is a procedure that involves the resection (removal) of much of the abnormally enlarged hemorrhoidal tissue, followed by a repositioning of the remaining hemorrhoidal tissue back to its normal anatomic position. It is generally less painful than complete removal of hemorrhoids, and is associated with faster healing compared to a hemorrhoidectomy.[3]


Symptomatic hemorrhoids affect at least 50% of the American population at some time during their lives, with around 5% of the population suffering at any given time, and both sexes experiencing the same incidence of the condition.[3][15] They are more common in Caucasians.[16]


First attested in English 1398, the word hemmorrhoid derives from the Old French "emorroides", from Latin "hæmorrhoida -ae",[17] in turn from the Greek "αἱμορροΐς" (haimorrhois), "liable to discharge blood", from "αἷμα" (haima), "blood"[18] + "ῥόος" (rhoos), "stream, flow, current",[19] itself from "ῥέω" (rheo), "to flow, to stream".[20]

Notable cases

Hall-of-Fame baseball player George Brett was removed from a game in the 1980 World Series due to hemorrhoid pain. After undergoing minor surgery, Brett returned to play in the next game, quipping "...my problems are all behind me."[21] Brett underwent further hemorrhoid surgery the following spring.[22]

Conservative political commentator Glenn Beck underwent surgery for hemorrhoids, subsequently describing his unpleasant experience in a widely viewed 2008 YouTube video.[23]


  1. ^ Chen, Herbert (2010). Illustrative Handbook of General Surgery. Berlin: Springer. pp. 217. ISBN 1-84882-088-7. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Schubert, MC; Sridhar, S; Schade, RR; Wexner, SD (July 2009). "What every gastroenterologist needs to know about common anorectal disorders". World J Gastroenterol 15 (26): 3201–9. DOI:10.3748/wjg.15.3201. ISSN 1007-9327. PMC 2710774. PMID 19598294. //www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pmcentrez&artid=2710774. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x Lorenzo-Rivero, S (August 2009). "Hemorrhoids: diagnosis and current management". Am Surg 75 (8): 635–42. PMID 19725283. 
  4. ^ Hoffman, Gary, M.D. (January 2010). "Hemorrhoids – PPH (Procedure For Prolapse And Hemorrhoids)". Los Angeles Colon & Rectal Surgical Associates. http://www.lacolon.com/patient-education/procedure-for-hemorrhoids-turning-skeptics-into-believers. Retrieved 17 November 2011. 
  5. ^ E. Gojlan, Pathology, 2nd ed. Mosby Elsevier, Rapid Review series.
  6. ^ Banov Jr, L; Knoepp Jr, LF; Erdman, LH; Alia, RT (1985). "Management of hemorrhoidal disease". J S C Med Assoc 81 (7): 398–401. PMID 3861909. 
  7. ^ Azimuddin, edited by Indru Khubchandani, Nina Paonessa, Khawaja (2009). Surgical treatment of hemorrhoids (2nd ed. ed.). New York: Springer. pp. 21. ISBN 978-1-84800-313-2. http://books.google.ca/books?id=7WC4f7BhChEC&pg=PA21. 
  8. ^ Mayo Clinic staff (18 March 2010). "Hemorrhoids". MayoClinic. http://www.mayoclinic.com/print/hemorrhoids/DS00096/DSECTION=all&METHOD=print. Retrieved 18 March 2010. 
  9. ^ National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (November 2004). "Hemorrhoids". National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), NIH. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/hemorrhoids/. Retrieved 18 March 2010. 
  10. ^ "Hemorrhoids". March of Dimes. August 2009. http://www.marchofdimes.com/pnhec/159_15290.asp. Retrieved 18 March 2010. 
  11. ^ "Hemorrhoids". http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/hemorrhoids/index.htm#treatment. 
  12. ^ a b Alonso-Coello, P.; Guyatt, G. H.; Heels-Ansdell, D.; Johanson, J. F.; Lopez-Yarto, M.; Mills, E.; Zhuo, Q.; Alonso-Coello, Pablo (2005). Alonso-Coello, Pablo. ed. "Laxatives for the treatment of hemorrhoids". Cochrane Database Syst Rev (4): CD004649. DOI:10.1002/14651858.CD004649.pub2. PMID 16235372. 
  13. ^ http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/hemorrhoids-medications
  14. ^ MacLeod, JH (1982). "In defense of cryotherapy for hemorrhoids. A modified method". Dis Colon Rectum 25 (4): 332–5. DOI:10.1007/BF02553608. PMID 6979469. 
  15. ^ "Hemorrhoids". American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons. http://www.fascrs.org/patients/conditions/hemorrhoids/. 
  16. ^ Christian Lynge, Dana; Weiss, Barry D.. 20 Common Problems: Surgical Problems And Procedures In Primary Care. McGraw-Hill Professional. pp. 114. ISBN 978-0-07-136002-9. 
  17. ^ hæmorrhoida, Charlton T. Lewis, Charles Short, A Latin Dictionary, on Perseus Digital Library
  18. ^ αἷμα, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus Digital Library
  19. ^ ῥόος, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus Digital Library
  20. ^ ῥέω, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus Digital Library
  21. ^ Dick Kaegel (March 5, 2009). "Memories fill Kauffman Stadium". Major League Baseball. http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090305&content_id=3921596. 
  22. ^ "Brett in Hospital for Surgery". The New York Times. Associated Press. March 1, 1981. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D0DE2DC1439F932A35750C0A967948260. 
  23. ^ http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/PainManagement/story?id=4101741&page=1#.TtJWNrL8wtw



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