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What are hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids are swollen, enlarged veins that form inside and outside the anus and rectum. Also known as piles, they can be painful and cause rectal bleeding.

An estimated 1 in 20 Americans have symptomatic hemorrhoids. They affect people of all ages, genders, races, and ethnicities. They’re more common as you age, affecting more than half of people over 50. Many treatment options are available for hemorrhoids, including over-the-counter remedies, surgical procedures, and minimally invasive options.

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Types of hemorrhoids

There are four types of hemorrhoids:
  • Internal hemorrhoids are the most common type. They occur inside the rectum and usually aren’t painful.
  • External hemorrhoids are the least common type. They occur at the opening of the anus and can be very painful.
  • Prolapsed hemorrhoids are internal hemorrhoids that have slipped outside the anus.
  • Thrombosed hemorrhoids are hemorrhoids that are filled with blood clots. They can be internal or external. When external, they can be painful.

Causes of hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids happen when strain is placed on the veins in your anus and rectum. Anything that increases pressure on your belly or lower extremities can cause these veins to become swollen or inflamed.

Hemorrhoids may develop due to:
  • Pelvic pressure from weight gain, especially during pregnancy
  • Constipation or pushing hard to have a bowel movement
  • Weightlifting or straining to lift heavy objects
Also, stool left behind after wiping can aggravate hemorrhoids even more.

Symptoms of hemorrhoids

Bleeding is the most common symptom of hemorrhoids. You may see blood on toilet paper after wiping, in your stool, or in the toilet bowl.

Other symptoms of hemorrhoids include:
  • Itchy anus
  • Hard lumps near the anus that feel sore or tender
  • Pain or ache in the anus, especially when you sit
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, treatment options are available.

Treatment options for hemorrhoids

There are several treatment options for patients who struggle with hemorrhoids. The most common treatments include:

Hemorrhoid Embolization

Embolization is a procedure that blocks or closes a blood vessel. When you block the blood vessels leading to the hemorrhoid, you can relieve painful symptoms for good.

With hemorrhoid embolization, the doctor will insert a catheter into your leg. Through this catheter, they can stop blood flow to the hemorrhoids.

Hemorrhoid embolization is painless and requires virtually no recovery time.

Surgery (Hemorrhoidectomy)

The most common treatment for severe hemorrhoids is a surgery called a hemorrhoidectomy.

In a traditional hemorrhoidectomy, the hemorrhoids are cut out. Other types of this surgery may use a laser or a stapling device to remove them.

Recovery time for a hemorrhoidectomy can be anywhere from one to four weeks, but it may be eight weeks before you can resume regular activities.

Hemorrhoid Ligation

Another common treatment for hemorrhoids is hemorrhoid ligation, also called hemorrhoid banding.

During a ligation, tiny rubber bands are placed at the base of the hemorrhoids, blocking blood flow. Over time, the hemorrhoids will shrink and fall off.

It usually takes several weeks to recover from a rubber band ligation.

Many hemorrhoid treatment options are painful, have long recovery times, and require multiple surgeries. By contrast, hemorrhoid embolization is painless and typically only requires one treatment to resolve symptoms.

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What is hemorrhoid artery embolization?

Hemorrhoid embolization (HE), also known as hemorrhoid artery embolization, is a treatment for internal hemorrhoids that offers long-lasting relief. It is minimally invasive, meaning there is no incision, no pain, and no recovery time.

Embolization blocks the blood vessel connections that cause hemorrhoids. This stops rectal bleeding and relieves painful, uncomfortable symptoms.

HE is performed by a special doctor called an interventional radiologist.This doctor is trained to do embolization and other minimally invasive procedures, like angioplasty, that treat various conditions.

During this procedure, the doctor uses X-ray guidance to insert a catheter through your leg and into the blood vessels that are connected to the hemorrhoids. Tiny coils are released through the catheter and into the blood vessels. The coils block the blood supply to the hemorrhoids, which stops the bleeding.

Who is a candidate for hemorrhoid embolization?

If you suffer from internal hemorrhoids that have not been successfully managed with hygiene, diet, or medication, you may be an ideal candidate for hemorrhoid embolization.

If you want to avoid surgery, or you have already tried surgical treatment, hemorrhoid embolization may be the right treatment option for you. Our experts can help you choose a treatment option during a consultation.

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Benefits of hemorrhoid embolization

Hemorrhoid embolization is a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure. There is no incision required.

Unlike surgery, hemorrhoid embolization:
  • Requires only conscious sedation
  • Does not cause scarring
  • Is nearly painless and allows for fast recovery at home
  • Can be done at an outpatient center
  • Provides a reduced risk of infection
  • Makes it much less likely for hemorrhoids to come back
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Ready to speak with a hemorrhoid embolization specialist?

If you’ve been diagnosed with internal hemorrhoids, our specialists can help with minimally invasive hemorrhoid artery embolization. Our interventional radiologists and outpatient vascular center staff work with precision and compassion to guide you through your hemorrhoid treatment journey so you can get back to your daily routine.

We work every day to deliver far more than our patients expect. We bring our medical capabilities and excellent service to every patient. Request a consultation today to see if hemorrhoid embolization is right for you.

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Frequently Asked Questions about hemorrhoid embolization

What type of doctor performs hemorrhoid embolization?
An interventional radiologist performs hemorrhoid artery embolization for internal hemorrhoids. The procedure is done in an outpatient setting—in a doctor’s office, not a hospital.
What are grade 2 internal hemorrhoids?
Grade 2 hemorrhoids are prolapsed internal hemorrhoids extending out of the anus during a bowel movement or straining. They go back inside the anus on their own.
What are grade 3 internal hemorrhoids?
Grade 3 hemorrhoids are internal hemorrhoids that prolapse but do not go back inside the anus without assistance.
What is the success rate of hemorrhoid embolization?
About 93% of patients see improvement in hemorrhoid-related symptoms without additional treatment within one month of hemorrhoid artery embolization.
Is hemorrhoid embolization covered by insurance?
Most health insurance plans cover hemorrhoid artery embolization for patients experiencing symptomatic hemorrhoids.