Argon plasma coagulation as first-line treatment for chronic radiation proctopathy

J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2004 Oct;19(10):1169-73. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1746.2004.03448.x.


Background and aim: Chronic radiation proctopathy is a troublesome complication of radiotherapy to the pelvis, for which current treatment modalities are unsatisfactory. The present prospective study was designed to determine the usefulness and safety of argon plasma coagulation in the management of chronic radiation proctopathy.

Methods: Twenty-five consecutive patients (M:F 24:1, mean age: 69 years) with radiation proctopathy were prospectively included. All patients received argon plasma coagulation by a standard protocol. Response to treatment was assessed by symptom response, bleeding severity score, hematological parameters and transfusion requirements over a median 14-month follow up.

Results: Patients received a median of one treatment session with argon plasma coagulation. There was significant improvement in rectal bleeding in all patients, with complete cessation of bleeding in 21 (81%) of the patients. The median bleeding severity score fell from 3 to 0 (P < 0.0005). The mean hemoglobin level rose from 10.05 +/- 2.21 g/dL before treatment to 12.44 +/- 1.09 g/dL at 6 months following treatment (P < 0.002). There was also improvement in other symptoms such as urgency and diarrhea. Over the period of follow up, there was no recurrence of anemia and no complications were noted.

Conclusion: These results suggest that argon plasma coagulation is a safe and effective modality in the treatment of chronic radiation proctopathy.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Argon / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / etiology
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / therapy
  • Humans
  • Laser Coagulation / methods*
  • Male
  • Noble Gases / therapeutic use
  • Proctitis / etiology
  • Proctitis / surgery*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Radiation Injuries / complications
  • Radiation Injuries / surgery*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Noble Gases
  • Argon