Background: Endoscopic treatments effectively control bleeding caused by radiation proctopathy. The aims of this study were to determine the efficacy and side effects of argon plasma coagulation in the treatment of this type of bleeding.
Methods: Records of 21 consecutive patients in whom argon plasma coagulation was used to treat hemorrhagic radiation proctopathy were reviewed.
Results: Pharmacologic measures had been unsuccessful in 12 patients. Endoscopic treatment had been unsuccessful in 5 patients. All patients were anemic and 4 had received blood transfusions. The mean number of treatment sessions was 1.7, and 10 patients were successfully treated in single session. Rectal bleeding resolved within 1 month of the last treatment in 19 patients, usually on the day of the last procedure. Bleeding resolved 2 months after cessation of therapy in another patient. Short-term side effects occurred in 3 (14%) patients (rectal pain, tenesmus, and/or abdominal distention); long-term complications (rectal pain, tenesmus, diarrhea) developed in 4 patients (19%).
Conclusions: Hematochezia caused by radiation proctopathy is effectively controlled by argon plasma coagulation, in some cases after a single treatment session. Treatment may result in protracted bowel symptoms.