JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Effectiveness of rubber band ligation in haemorrhoids and factors related to relapse.

PURPOSE: to assess the effectiveness of ambulatory rubber band ligation (RBL) in the treatment of symptomatic internal haemorrhoids and to identify factors related to relapse.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: prospective study of 232 patients treated with rubber band ligation for symptomatic haemorrhoids (grade I-III or grade IV with severe contraindication for surgery) from November 1996 to November 2000 at the outpatient clinic. Ligation was performed with a Stille AB (Comedic) ligator and suction pump, placing 1-3 bands per session and with up to three sessions per patient. Effectiveness of treatment was defined as the absence of symptoms and was confirmed by anoscopy by checking the residual scar after the cushions' detachment. Categorical variables were compared using the shi-squared test, whereas Student's t-test was used for continuous variables. Logistic regression was employed to identify clinical factors related to relapse.

RESULTS: a total of 331 bands were placed during 235 sessions in the 163 patients who completed follow-up (70%). Mean age was 45.6 years, with males accounting for 64.4%. Most patients (86.5%) had grade II or grade III haemorrhoids. Overall morbidity was 6%. The most frequent complications were rectal tenesmus (11%), slight or mild anal pain (7.4%), dysuria (4.3%) and transient anal bleeding (3.7%). The treatment was effective in 86% of patients after a mean follow-up of 32 months. Efficacy was high for grades I and II (100% and 97.4% ) but decreased for grade III (69.8%; p<0.001) and grade IV (0%; p<0.001). Most relapses occurred within the first 24 months (87%) and were not significantly related to age, gender, duration of symptoms, itching, bleeding, pain, tenesmus or bowel habit, but were significantly related to the presence of prolapse and its grade (p<0.001), and to the involvement of left posterior, right lateral and anterior pedicles (p<0.05).

CONCLUSIONS: ambulatory RBL is a safe and effective treatment for grade I, II and III symptomatic haemorrhoids, and is associated with low morbidity. Recurrence is uncommon and occurs mainly within the first 24 months, being related to the presence and grade of prolapse as well as to its location, but bears little relation to the rest of factors analysed.

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