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When pain piles up

Anyone can get piles, also known as haemorrhoids but the condition can worsen if patients do not seek timely treatment

Haemorrhoids can be uncomfortable when left untreated. PHOTO: ISTOCK
Haemorrhoids can be uncomfortable when left untreated. PHOTO: ISTOCK

One in three persons in Singapore suffers from problematic haemorrhoids. Despite the staggering figure, not many would seek treatment for the condition unless it causes great pain and discomfort.

Usually benign, haemorrhoids are enlarged blood vessels that are found just under the surface of the anus or within the inner lining of the rectum.

The problem comes when under increased pressure. Blood clots cause the veins in the piles to swell. This could cause significant pain or bleeding during bowel movements.

People vulnerable to the condition include those who do not take in enough fibre that may result in constipation, which could lead to prolonged periods in the toilet. Inflamed piles are also common among people in their 40s, those who are obese, and pregnant women.

A sedentary lifestyle and poor toileting habits such as overstraining or sitting on the toilet bowl for long periods of time can also increase the risk of developing haemorrhoids by increasing the pressure exerted on them.

And if you observe any of the symptoms, it is a sign to visit your doctor. In the early stages of the disease, medication and local treatment options such as rubber band ligation are feasible. In the later stages, such measures may not be sufficient, and surgery is indicated to treat the disease. The treatment of haemorrhoids depends on the type and severity of the condition. Haemorrhoidectomy, also known as the surgical removal of piles, is one treatment option.

What happens in a haemorrhoidectomy

There are two common ways to perform the haemorrhoidectomy: The conventional method of using a surgical blade to remove the haemorrhoids through open skin incisions or a relatively pain-free and faster surgery known as stapled haemorrhoidectomy for suitable cases.

In stapled haemorrhoidectomy, surgeons perform the procedure entirely within the anal canal and it leaves no external wounds. Surgery could be performed under local or general anaesthesia.

The advantages of selecting a stapled haemorrhoidectomy, a day surgery procedure, include less post-operation pain and faster recovery time. Patients are usually discharged within a day following the surgery, hence facilitating a quick return to work and resumption of daily activities.

Yet for many people, it is not just the fear of going under the knife that deters them from seeking proper treatment. They may be worried about the final medical bill following the surgery.

No medical bill surprises


With Parkway Pantai's Price Guarantee Procedures, you can get the treatment you need without worrying over your medical bill. PHOTO: PARKWAY PANTAI

​​To eliminate such concerns, Parkway Pantai, the private healthcare provider, has in place Price Guarantee Procedures (PGP) that provides a patient with a fixed price point on certain procedures like haemorrhoidectomy. The hospital uses an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered tool to give patients an overview of the final hospital bill. This scheme provides greater price transparency from the start, and it covers any related complications that may arise following the procedure for up to seven days.

The thinking behind PGP is to empower patients and their families to make well-informed decisions on the available medical treatment options and the fees prior to their admission.

Since November last year, the healthcare group has leveraged on AI to generate more than 40,000 hospital bill estimations based on 36 criteria, including the average length of stay in hospital, ward type, diagnosis and surgical procedures.

PGP is currently offered at four hospitals: Gleneagles Hospital, Mount Elizabeth Hospital, Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital and Parkway East Hospital. All self-paying and insured patients are eligible for PGP, which are available from doctors who are participating in the programme.

Haemorrhoidectomy is one of six operations that are eligible for PGP. Other surgeries under the programme include removal of breast lumps, ovarian cysts, gall bladder, thyroid and tonsils.

For more information, please call 6812-3789 or visit the hospital websites.

This article is for informational purposes only. Please refer to the specific procedures’ financial counselling forms for detailed programme inclusions and exclusions. Prospective patients should always seek independent medical advice.

References:
1. Mount Elizabeth (2019) Haemorrhoids (Piles) [Online]. Available from: https://www.mountelizabeth.com.sg/specialties/medical-specialties/stomac... (Accessed: 8 November 2019).
2. HealthXchange.sg (2016) Piles: A Common Problem in Singapore [Online]. Available from: https://www.healthxchange.sg/digestive-system/colorectal/piles-haemorrho... (Accessed: 8 November 2019).
3. NY Wong Surgery (2019) Introduction to Hemorrhoidal Diseases [Online]. Available from: http://colonrectal.com.sg/services/piles-surgery/#stapled-hemorrhoidectomy (Accessed: 12 November 2019)
4. Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre (2019) Understanding Piles [Online]. Available from: https://www.memc.com.sg/understanding-piles (Accessed: 12 November 2019)