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CRH vs. Infrared Coagulation

Is there a Better Alternative to Infrared Coagulation?

Although IRC therapy is more effective than some treatments and does not cause significant pain or side effects, it has a higher recurrence rate than hemorrhoid banding — the most popular treatment for hemorrhoids. According to the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons, rubber band ligation is the most effective office-based procedure for hemorrhoids and has a better success rate than infrared coagulation. When doctors use the CRH O’Regan hemorrhoid banding system, patients can expect the procedure to be 99% effective.

The CRH O’Regan System uses a gentle hemorrhoid banding device to painlessly treat all grades of  hemorrhoid. The CRH O’Regan System does not require any preparation, and the procedure usually takes less than a minute to perform. Doctors that offer this treatment option can use the system quickly in their office so you can get treated and go about your day. Take our quiz to find out if hemorrhoid banding is right for you. If you’re ready to learn more about an effective, painless hemorrhoid banding technique, find a physician who offers the CRH O’Regan System.


Almost 3 out of 4 adults suffer from hemorrhoids, also known as piles. Hemorrhoid symptoms include itching, pain, bleeding, swelling, prolapsing and soiling.

Since hemorrhoid home remedies only offer temporary relief, you may be considering a procedure like infrared coagulation.

Infrared coagulation hemorrhoid treatment was introduced in 1981, and it has since become a widely used office-based procedure. Below is more information to explore infrared coagulation to see if it’s an option you and your doctor should consider.

What Is Infrared Coagulation for Hemorrhoids?

Infrared coagulation (IRC) therapy is a nonsurgical procedure that uses heat from infrared light to harden and shrivel hemorrhoids. The heat clots the vessels that supply hemorrhoids with blood. Without a blood supply, the hemorrhoids die and eventually separate from healthy tissue. Scar tissue forms on the anal canal wall, holding other veins in place.

A treated hemorrhoid will not fall off immediately after the procedure. Instead, it takes about a week for the hemorrhoid to be expelled.

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When Might a Doctor Recommend Infrared Coagulation for Piles?

A doctor might recommend IRC therapy if you have bleeding or prolapsed hemorrhoids. Prolapsed hemorrhoids are internal hemorrhoids that protrude out of the anus, and they can cause itching, bleeding and discomfort.

Doctors may also suggest IRC therapy as an alternative to a hemorrhoidectomy. A hemorrhoidectomy is a procedure that surgically removes hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoidectomies can cause pain during the postoperative stage and come with a higher risk of complication than nonsurgical options. Surgery also requires more time off from work than other treatment forms and is typically more expensive. Unlike a hemorrhoidectomy, IRC treatment can be completed quickly in a doctor’s office.


Side Effects of Infrared Coagulation

Infrared coagulation is a safe and straightforward procedure. Although patients usually do not have severe pain after the treatment, they might experience the following side effects:

  • Mild to moderate pain
  • Slight rectal bleeding or discharge

Risks of IRC Therapy

Like other office-based procedures, IRC therapy poses little risk of major complications. Rarely, patients might experience the following after a hemorrhoid IRC procedure:

  • Infection
  • Urinary dysfunction
  • Heavy rectal bleeding
  • Severe pain

Success Rate of Infrared Coagulation

Infrared coagulation is effective for about 70% of patients. This success rate has been reported for patients who received the treatment three to four times. Hemorrhoids can recur after infrared coagulation, leading some patients to need surgery for long-term relief. About 20% of people may need surgery after IRC therapy.

Effectiveness mostly depends on the doctor’s experience performing infrared coagulation. The patient also plays a vital role in a successful recovery and preventing future hemorrhoids.

What to Expect With Infrared Coagulation

If you and your doctor decide IRC therapy is right for you, make sure to ask questions so you can properly prepare. To give you a general idea of what IRC treatment looks like, here’s what you can expect before, during and after the procedure:

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Before the Procedure

Ask your doctor about the procedure and its risks, benefits and steps. You might also ask about other hemorrhoid treatment options. If you choose to continue with IRC therapy, make sure your doctor knows all the medications, vitamins and supplements you take. Some of these could increase the risk of complications, especially if you take blood thinners.

Know that your doctor may ask you to use a laxative or enema to clear your colon before your appointment.

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During the Procedure

At the start of the procedure, your doctor will likely apply a numbing gel, like lidocaine. During infrared coagulation, you will lie on your side as a doctor inserts a small probe into your rectum, positioning it above the hemorrhoidal tissue. The probe is part of a device called an infrared coagulator. The physician will use the instrument to deliver short bursts of infrared light to the hemorrhoid. You may feel some discomfort and warmth during the treatment, and you can expect the procedure to take about 30 minutes.

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After the Procedure

After the procedure, you might experience pain and a full feeling in your lower belly. You may also feel like you need to make a bowel movement. Discomfort can last for about a week after the procedure.

You might also notice a small amount of blood when you go to the bathroom, which is normal. Slight bleeding is a sign the hemorrhoid has fallen off. The bleeding should stop on its own within two to three weeks.

During your recovery, you may need to take time off from work, depending on your job and how you feel. If your job requires lifting, it’s best to wait a few days before returning. It’s important to avoid heavy lifting and straining during bowel movements as you heal. Your doctor may recommend taking a stool softener during your recovery. They should give you self-care instructions, as well, so you know exactly what to do and avoid.

Your doctor may then schedule a follow-up exam with you around three months after the procedure. If you notice any signs of infection, have severe pain or notice other concerns before then, reach out to your doctor right away.

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