Study objective: To evaluate the usefulness of endobronchial argon plasma coagulation (APC) for the treatment of hemoptysis and neoplastic airway obstruction.
Design: Retrospective study.
Setting: Bronchoscopy unit of a university hospital.
Patients: A total of 60 patients with bronchogenic carcinoma (n = 43), metastatic tumors affecting the bronchi (n = 14), or benign bronchial disease (n = 3). Indications for intervention were hemoptysis (n = 31), symptomatic airway obstruction (n = 14), and both obstruction and hemoptysis (n = 25). Hemoptysis was stratified as a volume of > 200 mL/d (n = 6), > 50 to 200 mL/d (n = 23), or < or = 50 mL/d but persistence for > 1 week (n = 27). The mean (+/- SD) duration of hemoptysis was 16.5 +/- 16.1 days before intervention. Obstruction sites were the trachea (n = 8), mainstem bronchi (n = 21), and lobar bronchi (n = 30). In 24 cases, the patient had obstructions at multiple sites. The mean size of the pretreatment obstruction was 76 +/- 24.9%.
Interventions: APC, a noncontact form of electrocoagulation, was performed via flexible bronchoscopy. Sixty patients underwent 70 procedures. Conscious sedation without endotracheal intubation was used in all patients except four, who were mechanically ventilated because of underlying respiratory failure.
Measurements and results: All patients with hemoptysis experienced a resolution of bleeding immediately after APC. Hemoptysis from treated sites did not recur during a mean follow-up duration of 97 +/- 91.9 days. Patients with endoluminal airway lesions had an overall decrease in mean obstruction size to 18.4 +/- 22.1%. All patients with obstructive lesions, except one who died of sepsis, experienced symptom improvement. In these patients, symptom control was maintained during a median follow-up period of 53 days (range, 18 to 321 days). There were no complications related to the procedure.
Conclusions: APC is effective for the treatment of endoluminal hemoptysis and airway obstruction. The procedure can be performed in an outpatient setting or at the bedside in the ICUs. APC provides a simpler, lower-risk alternative to other interventional endobronchial techniques.