A randomized, controlled trial of diathermy hemorrhoidectomy vs. stapled hemorrhoidectomy in an intended day-care setting with longer-term follow-up

M J Cheetham, C R G Cohen, M A Kamm, R K S Phillips
Diseases of the Colon and Rectum 2003, 46 (4): 491-7

PURPOSE: Hemorrhoidectomy is the most effective long-term treatment for hemorrhoids. Although it is possible to perform hemorrhoidectomy as a day case with a high degree of patient satisfaction, patients take an average of 14 days off work after surgery. Stapled hemorrhoidectomy is believed to be less painful than conventional hemorrhoidectomy and should allow an earlier return to work. The aim of this study was to compare both the immediate and the long-term results of stapled hemorrhoidectomy with diathermy hemorrhoidectomy in patients with prolapsing internal hemorrhoids in an intended day-care setting.

METHODS: Thirty-one patients were randomly assigned to undergo diathermy hemorrhoidectomy (n = 16) or stapled hemorrhoidectomy performed with a purpose-designed endoluminal stapling device, PPH01T (n = 15). All operations were planned as day or short-stay cases. All patients received lactulose, commenced preoperatively, together with postoperative topical glyceryl trinitrate and oral metronidazole. Patients were assessed by structured interview to assess their symptoms before and after surgery, with an intended follow-up of six months. All patients completed a 10-cm visual analog pain scale daily for the first ten days after surgery.

RESULTS: The total pain score (sum of all pain scores) was significantly higher in the diathermy group (50 (range, 9.8-79.9) vs. 19.6 (range, 1.3-89.5), P = 0.03). Patients took a median of 14 (range, 3-21) days off work after diathermy hemorrhoidectomy compared with 10 (range, 3-38) days for the patients undergoing stapled hemorrhoidectomy (P = 0.15). At long-term follow-up, three patients (all in the stapled group) developed new symptoms of fecal urgency and anal pain, and three patients required further surgery to remove symptomatic external hemorrhoids after stapled hemorrhoidectomy.

CONCLUSIONS: Although stapled hemorrhoidectomy is less painful in the short term, this does not lead to a significantly earlier return to work, and some patients develop new symptoms at long-term follow-up.

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