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Infrared Coagulation

Infrared Coagulation Therapy to Treat Pre-Malignant Anal Lesions

What is IRC and what is it used for?

The infrared coagulator (IRC) is an instrument that delivers infrared light. Heat created by the infrared light destroys precancerous areas, so that necrotic (dead) tissue can be removed. The IRC was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treating Condyloma (warts) and hemorrhoids. Now, it is used to treat internal and external low grade anal intraepithelial neoplasia and precancerous high grade anal intraepithelial neoplasia in an effort to reduce the risk of invasive anal cancer.

About the IRC Procedure

The infrared coagulation procedure takes place in the office with minimal discomfort during and after treatment. A prep to clean out the bowels and conscious sedation are not needed. Lidocaine gel (numbing medicine) will be applied topically to the anal area before treatment. High resolution anoscopy (HRA) will be performed to locate the abnormal areas and additional local anesthetic (numbing medicine) will be injected in the areas to be treated. The IRC tip is placed in contact with the abnormal area and delivers heat for 1.5 seconds. This will be repeated as necessary to treat the abnormal tissue. You may feel some heat and minor pain during the IRC. The resulting dead tissue will be removed.

The procedure can take up to 1 hour. Lesions maybe treated in one office visit. Additional treatment may be required for larger or numerous lesions.

After the IRC Procedure

  • Recovery is fast. You may return to work the following day.
  • Avoid inserting anything into the anus for 2 weeks after the procedure (No toys or anal sex.).
  • There can be mild to moderate pain or discomfort which can be treated with pain medication (such as Tylenol or hydrocodone every 4-8 hours as needed).
  • Frequent soaking in warm water, after bowel movements, can decrease anal pain.
  • Drinking plenty of water, using stool softeners and eating a high fiber diet (such as Metamucil) will help avoid constipation and minimize discomfort.
  • Bleeding or discharge with bowel movements can occur for up to 2-3 weeks.
  • Rare complications (< 1 percent) include infection in the anal area and severe bleeding.
  • Call the office (206) 341-0746. Or go to your local emergency room if you develop severe pain, heavy bleeding, or fever of more than 101.

Follow-Up Exam

A follow-up exam is scheduled 3 months after the procedure to confirm that the abnormal tissue was effectively treated and that you are not developing new lesions; please call the office, at (206) 341-0746, sooner if you develop any anal pain, bleeding, new anal masses or lumps.