Published online May 7, 2012. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v18.i17.2009
Revised: January 10, 2012
Accepted: February 8, 2012
Published online: May 7, 2012
This review discusses the pathophysiology, epidemiology, risk factors, classification, clinical evaluation, and current non-operative and operative treatment of hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids are defined as the symptomatic enlargement and distal displacement of the normal anal cushions. The most common symptom of hemorrhoids is rectal bleeding associated with bowel movement. The abnormal dilatation and distortion of the vascular channel, together with destructive changes in the supporting connective tissue within the anal cushion, is a paramount finding of hemorrhoids. It appears that the dysregulation of the vascular tone and vascular hyperplasia might play an important role in hemorrhoidal development, and could be a potential target for medical treatment. In most instances, hemorrhoids are treated conservatively, using many methods such as lifestyle modification, fiber supplement, suppository-delivered anti-inflammatory drugs, and administration of venotonic drugs. Non-operative approaches include sclerotherapy and, preferably, rubber band ligation. An operation is indicated when non-operative approaches have failed or complications have occurred. Several surgical approaches for treating hemorrhoids have been introduced including hemorrhoidectomy and stapled hemorrhoidopexy, but postoperative pain is invariable. Some of the surgical treatments potentially cause appreciable morbidity such as anal stricture and incontinence. The applications and outcomes of each treatment are thoroughly discussed.