Complications of rubber band ligation of symptomatic internal hemorrhoids.
In a prospective study, 512 patients undergoing hemorrhoidal band ligation over a seven-year period were followed up to focus on complications. Thirteen patients (2.5 percent) were hospitalized: six with delayed massive rectal bleeding, three with urinary retention, pain, and fever (one developed perianal abscess), and three others with severe pain due to prolapsed thrombotic hemorrhoids (one developed difficulty in urination). One patient developed perianal abscess and perianal fistula two months after ligation. Twenty-four patients (4.6 percent) suffered from minor complications: 11 patients had painful thrombosed hemorrhoids; five experienced slippage of bands; three had mild bleeding; two developed band-related mucosal ulcer; one experienced each time, after two subsequent ligations, priapism lasting several hours; and difficulty in urination and tender induration above the dentate line occurred in two other patients. Rubber band ligation is, in effect, a miniature hemorrhoidectomy and has been considered, until recent reports of fatalities associated with this procedure, as an effective, safe, and efficient method of treating symptomatic second-degree and third-degree hemorrhoids. We conclude that the ability to handle complications that occur secondary to the rubber band ligation and, thereby, prevent sepsis and the low rate of major complications in our study justify reliance on this method of treating symptomatic hemorrhoids.