Despite an abundance of nonsurgical hemorrhoid therapies, none has been consistently more efficacious. By combining data from multiple clinical trials in a meta-analysis, the present study compared the efficacy and complications of infrared coagulation, injection sclerotherapy, and rubber band ligation to determine the optimal nonoperative hemorrhoid treatment. All published clinical trials comparing the three methods were identified by computer search and review of appropriate English language journals. Five trials studying 863 patients satisfied all inclusion criteria. Results demonstrated that similar numbers of patients were asymptomatic 12 months after treatment, regardless of initial therapy. However, significantly fewer patients undergoing rubber band ligation required additional treatment because symptoms had recurred. Although rubber band ligation demonstrated greater long-term efficacy, it was associated with a significantly higher incidence of posttreatment pain. In contrast, infrared coagulation was associated with both fewer and less severe complications. Thus, when all factors are considered, infrared coagulation may in fact be the optimal nonoperative hemorrhoid treatment.
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