Haemorrhoids are associated not with hypertrophy of the internal anal sphincter, but with hypertension of the anal cushions

Sun WM., Peck RJ., Shorthouse AJ., Read NW.
Br J Surg. 1992 Jun; 79(6): 592-4

A combined manometric and ultrasonographic study of the internal anal sphincter was carried out in 20 patients with haemorrhoids and 20 age-matched normal controls. Mean(s.e.m.) basal anal pressure was significantly higher in patients than in controls, 62(4) versus 45(6) cmH2O (P less than 0.05), although there were no significant differences in mean maximum basal and squeeze pressures. During rectal distension 90 per cent of patients showed no reduction in anal pressure in the outermost anal channel, although the internal sphincter electromyogram was suppressed and the external sphincter electromyogram did not necessarily increase above baseline. The mean (s.e.m.) maximum residual pressure was significantly higher in patients, 70(6) versus 45(6) cmH2O (P less than 0.05). Direct pressure measurement in anal cushions exhibited abnormally high median pressure in patients compared with controls, 35 versus 10 cmH2O (P less than 0.001). Pressures recorded during coughing and straining were also significantly higher in patients than in controls (P less than 0.001). Ultrasonographic study of the anal canal revealed a clear image of the internal sphincter, the thickness of which could easily be measured. The mean(s.e.m.) thickness of the sphincter was not significantly different, 2.3(0.2) versus 2.1(0.1) mm, between patients with haemorrhoids and controls (P = 0.18). The absence of any significant differences in the internal sphincter thickness between normal subjects and patients with haemorrhoids suggests that the high anal pressure in patients with haemorrhoids is of vascular origin.