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Life-threatening sepsis following treatment for haemorrhoids: a systematic review

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Abstract Introduction 

Haemorrhoids are a common complaint with estimates suggesting a prevalence of 4% of the adult population. Treatments such as rubber band ligation (RBL), sclerotherapy and excisional surgery have been in use for many years, and recently stapled haemorrhoidopexy, or procedure for prolapsing haemorrhoids (PPH) has gained acceptance. However, there have been consistent reports of severe sepsis, including a number of deaths. The purpose of this review was to assess the scale of the problem, and identify any predisposing factors, common presenting features, and treatment options in those who suffer these complications. Results 

Twenty-nine papers were identified, reporting 38 patients. Of these, 17 had undergone RBL, three had sclerotherapy, one had cryotherapy, 10 had excisional surgery and seven had PPH. Ten died as a result of their sepsis. The cases included 16 with perineal sepsis, seven with retroperitoneal gas and oedema, and six with liver abscesses. Common presenting features were urinary difficulties, fever, severe pain, septic shock and leucocytosis. Most were managed by means of surgery, although a minority survived having received conservative therapy. With the exception of two patients (one of whom was human immunodeficiency virus positive and the other had a drug-induced agranulocytosis) all were well prior to surgery. Conclusions 

Although extremely uncommon, severe sepsis does occur post-treatment for haemorrhoids and all surgeons who treat such patients should be aware of the potential complications and alert to their presenting features. Early presentation without evidence of tissue necrosis may be managed conservatively, although most cases are managed by means of surgery.
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Keywords: Haemorrhoids; gangrene; infection; postoperative complication; sepsis

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 November 2006

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