For appointments or enquiries, ​please contact
(Monday - Friday, 9am - 6pm)

020 7118 0212
info@sarabadvie.com

Mrs Sara Badvie
MB BS (Hons) BSc (Hons) MS FRCS (Gen.Surg)
Female Colorectal & General Surgeon in London
Colorectal Clinical Lead, London Surgical Skills Programme, Imperial College

Haemorrhoids, also known as piles, are engorged vascular cushions around the anus and rectum. These cushions are normally involved in helping the anus to close after a bowel movement, but become enlarged to become haemorrhoids. There are four different grades of haemorrhoids dependent upon their position and movements in and outside of the anal canal.

How do they form?

Often haemorrhoids form after prolonged straining at stool, and constipation. They can also occur in pregnancy.

What problems can they cause?

Haemorrhoids may cause no problems in some people, and require no treatment. Others may experience bleeding from the bottom, which often raises concern as bleeding may be caused by many things, including more serious conditions. Swelling and discomfort affect some people with haemorrhoids. As the anal cushions fail to close properly after a bowel movement, a little faecal leakage or mucus discharge may occur, leading to anal itch.

How are they diagnosed?

Mrs Badvie will go through your symptoms with you in the outpatient clinic and perform an examination of your abdomen and bottom. At the end of your examination, it may be possible to insert a small camera into the anal canal (‘proctoscopy’) for Mrs Badvie to visualise the haemorrhoids. If bleeding is the main symptom, it is often appropriate to rule out other causes of bleeding by looking further into the rectum with a longer camera (‘rigid sigmoidoscopy’). Both tests can be performed in the outpatient department and will be discussed with you in detail. You will not need to do anything to prepare your bowel before these camera tests, which are not painful. It may be necessary to arrange a flexible camera test to examine the rest of your bowel in the endoscopy department (see endoscopy section).