Hemorrhoids, a condition that involves swelling of the veins in the rectum, have been a nuisance since the dawn of man. Accounts of hemorrhoids date back to the earliest of civilizations, including the Egyptians, the Greeks and the Romans.
Ancient Egyptian documents directed caregivers to apply an ointment made from ground acacia tree for an unnamed, but painful, perianal disease that was most likely hemorrhoids. The word “haemorrhoid” has Greek roots: haema (blood) and rhoos, coined by Hippocrates in 460 BC. Hippocrates provided some of the earliest recorded methods of surgical procedures, including a ligation procedure that involved tying thick woolen thread around the hemorrhoid to cut off its blood supply. Later writings also described excision of hemorrhoids. The Roman, Arab and Indian societies also recorded writings that described their own ligation and excision techniques.
During the Middle Ages, these procedures were often performed by literal barber instead of physicians, who thought themselves to be above performing surgery. Barbers often had various tools essential to their trade that doubled as makeshift surgical equipment. Science and surgery met once again the during The Renaissance, where documents indicated the usage of ligation with needle and thread, followed by excision.
Clearly, ligation was the preferred way of operating on hemorrhoids. It was simple to do and only required readily available material. Even today, ligation is an incredibly common procedure offered by many clinics, including One Stop. Rubber band ligation, the modern version of the procedure, is not far off from that of ancient times. The procedure involves inserting an anoscope into the anus, grasping the hemorrhoid, then attaching a rubber band tightly around the base of the hemorrhoid. The hemorrhoid then shrivels up and falls off in about a week.
Nowadays, ligation is just one of multiple options and is performed depending on how advanced the hemorrhoids are. Infrared Coagulation Therapy, or IRC, is a procedure that has gained popularity for small to medium sized hemorrhoids. The device is inserted through an anoscope and will then apply infrared light directly to the hemorrhoid, which causes clotting and scar tissue. Scarring causes the hemorrhoid to shrink. Rubber band ligation is slightly more painful, but IRC has slightly higher chances of relapse. Ultimately, they are similar in effectiveness.
Hemorrhoids have been an issue for people for as long as civilization has existed, and it’s fascinating to see its presence so universally throughout history. It’s important to remember that everyone suffers from hemorrhoids, so don’t be afraid to have them checked out by your doctor.