Exams & Tests

Women Cross-sectionFor most external hemorrhoids, your doctor may see them simply by looking and often home treatment is all you need.

For internal hemorrhoids, your doctor will exam you by inserting a rubber gloved finger into your rectum. Often, because internal hemorrhoids may be soft, the rectal exam may not be enough to diagnose your problems. Your doctor may use a flexible, lighted scope (sigmoidoscope or anoscope) to look into your anus or rectum. Your doctor may want to do an extensive exam of your entire colon using colonoscopy.

Home treatments can sometimes be used for internal hemorrhoids as well; however outpatient procedures or surgery may be necessary.

While tests may help confirm the presence of hemorrhoids, the source of your bleeding or the presence of another digestive disease, the exams and tests cannot treat the hemorrhoid.

Standard Exam

A doctor can often diagnose hemorrhoids simply by examining the rectal area with a gloved finger. There may be some slight discomfort as the doctor inserts his or her finger into the rectum.

Stool Guaiac Test

A stool guaiac test looks for hidden blood in the stool, a symptom of hemorrhoids. It can be performed at home or in the physician’s office. This is a completely non-invasive procedure that examines stool specimens collected over three consecutive bowel movements. The sample is submitted on a card to a laboratory for processing.

You should not eat red meat before the test. It is also best to eliminate cantaloupe, raw broccoli, horseradish, turnips or radishes at least three days beforehand. Instructions for preparing for the test may vary depending on your physician.

Sigmoidoscopy

A sigmoidoscopy can determine the presence of hemorrhoids, among other problems. The physician will insert a short, flexible, lighted tube into the rectum, called a sigmoidoscope, which has a lens for viewing. There will be slight pressure when the scope is inserted and possibly the urge to have a bowel movement during the procedure.

The tube transmits an image of the inside of the rectum so the doctor can see the lining and make a diagnosis.

Anoscopy

An anoscopy can determine the presence of hemorrhoids, among other ailments. During the procedure an anoscope, a lubricated instrument with a light on the end, is inserted a few inches into the rectum so the doctor can see the entire anal canal. Before the procedure patients may use an enema to empty their bowels. The procedure can be slightly uncomfortable, but not painful.