Hemorrhoids are a condition in which swollen varicose veins are found in the lower rectum and anus. It is estimated that three out of four people will develop hemorrhoids at some time in their lives. Because of rich vascular and nerve supply, as well as tendency to prolapse in the anorectal area, hemorrhoids are among the most common reasons for anorectal complaints in office visits.
Although not all rectal symptoms are caused by hemorrhoids, hemorrhoids subsequently are blamed for almost all rectal complaints by patients and doctors alike. How accurate does a physician make a diagnosis of Hemorrhoids? Actually, the accuracy of a diagnosis is not very high. Studies show that the correct rate of hemorrhoid diagnosis is lowest in seven common anorectal conditions. There was no correlation between diagnostic accuracy and years of physician experience. The investigators in the studies found the average diagnostic accuracy among the physicians to be 53.5%, with the accuracy for colorectal and general surgeons being 70.4% and that for the rest of the doctors being less than 50%.
Hemorrhoids are a common and benign disease; many patients in Minnesota are too embarrassed to ever seek medical attention. It is important to rule out other rectal conditions, such as cancer and other causes of rectal bleeding, anal fissure and fistula, and anal warts. It is relatively common to see that the patients have two benign conditions at the same time. Occasionally, the patients have both hemorrhoids and rectal or colon cancers. Early medical consultation is important to confirm diagnosis and start early treatments, which not only improve the quality of life, but also save lives.