Toms River, N.J., March 30, 2004 – Research has shown that more than half of the population will develop hemorrhoids, usually after age 30. While some sufferers do progress to surgery, millions of Americans avoid treatment due to embarrassment or fear of pain and recovery.
Community Medical Center now offers a less painful, outpatient procedure for the treatment of hemorrhoids which offers a quicker recovery time than traditional hemorrhoidectomy procedures. This breakthrough approach, called the Procedure for Prolapse and Hemorrhoids (PPH), was introduced in the United States in 2001 and has been performed at Community Medical Center for nearly a year.
Steven Lowry, M.D., a colon and rectal surgeon, has performed the new PPH procedure over 150 times at Community Medical Center. He said PPH is a truly effective treatment for hemorrhoids, offering a less painful alternative to other surgeries.
“Unfortunately, many people with symptomatic hemorrhoids suffer in silence for a long period of time before seeking medical care. Embarrassment, fear of extreme pain and long recovery associated with traditional hemorrhoidectomy and fear of cancer are all factors in delaying treatment,” Dr. Lowry said.
The procedure, which takes approximately a half hour, is performed on an outpatient basis under local, regional or general anesthesia. Patients return home shortly after the procedure is over.
Essentially, the PPH procedure uses a stapling device which lifts up or repositions the mucosa, or anal canal tissue, and reduces blood flow to internal hemorrhoids. After the procedure, the hemorrhoids typically shrink within four to six weeks. The PPH procedure results in less pain than traditional hemorrhoid surgery because it is performed above the “pain line” or dentate line, inside the anal canal. The advantage is that this method affects few nerve endings, while traditional procedures are performed below the dentate line, affecting many sensitive nerve endings.
Hemorrhoids are natural tissue found in the anal canal, and essentially are swollen veins. Hemorrhoidal disease results when the anal tissue and veins enlarge and descend downward into the anal canal. The condition can result from several factors, including constipation with prolonged straining, diet and pregnancy. Symptoms of hemorrhoids including aching after a bowel movement; anal or rectal itching; bright red blood on toilet tissue or in toilet bowl; appearance of anal tissue pads or sensitive lumps. When any of these symptoms are present, it is important to see a physician to make sure the cause of the discomfort is hemorrhoids and not some other condition.
Internal hemorrhoids are usually not painful, but may bleed. Sometimes, an internal hemorrhoid may stretch until it bulges outside the anus. This is called a prolapsed hemorrhoid. A prolapsed hemorrhoid can go back inside the rectum on its own, or it can be gently pushed back inside. If the prolapsed hemorrhoid cannot be pushed back inside, surgical treatment may be necessary.
External hemorrhoids involve the veins of the anus. They can be itchy or painful and can sometimes crack and bleed. If a blood clot forms, one may feel a tender lump on the edge of the anus, and see bright red blood on toilet paper or in the toilet after a bowel movement.
Often, lifestyle changes, diet, topical medications and good hygiene are all that is needed to reduce the symptoms of hemorrhoids. Dr. Lowry said most painful hemorrhoids stop hurting on their own in one to two weeks. However, in a certain number cases, surgical procedures are necessary to provide satisfactory, long-term relief, he added.
Dr. Lowry offers the following tips for hemorrhoid prevention:
- Increase fiber intake (i.e. fresh fruits, leafy vegetables, whole grain breads and cereals).
- Drink plenty of fluids, excluding alcohol. Eight glasses of water a day is ideal.
- Do not read on the toilet; sitting and straining too long increases swelling.
- Exercise regularly.
- Avoid laxatives as they can lead to diarrhea; except bulk-forming laxatives, such as Fiberall, Metamucil, etc.
- Don’t wait for long periods of time before using the bathroom. Delaying bowel movements can cause constipation.
“Living with hemorrhoids is no way to live,” Dr. Lowry said. “This is a health issue that can actively be controlled, rather than be an embarrassment that causes endless discomfort.”
For more information, or to find a physician in your area, call Community Medical Center’s Physician Referral line at 1-888-724-7123.
Community Medical Center (CMC) is an affiliate of the Saint
Barnabas Health Care System, the largest integrated health
care delivery system in New Jersey, with nine acute care hospitals,
nine nursing homes, five ambulatory care facilities, three
geriatric centers, three assisted living residencies, a freestanding
100-bed inpatient psychiatric facility and a statewide behavioral
health network. Located in Toms River, Community is a fully
accredited, acute-care 596-bed facility offering the most advanced,
ultra-modern diagnostic and treatment services, including emergency
and urgent care, laser and arthroscopic surgery, maternity
and a Level II special care nursery and pediatrics unit. CMC
offers the Community Regional Cancer Center; state-of-the-art
Radiation Oncology; a Renal Dialysis Center; a Cardiac Catheterization
Laboratory, as well as general medical and health care services
to the residents of Ocean County; and the Center for Kids and
Family with sites located in Toms River and Lacey. Community
Medical Center has been awarded the esteemed Magnet Status
for Nursing Excellence from the American Nurses Association's
Credentialing Center (ANCC).