Argon plasma coagulation treatment of hemorrhagic radiation proctopathy: the optimal settings for application and long-term outcome

Gastrointest Endosc. 2011 Mar;73(3):543-9. doi: 10.1016/j.gie.2010.11.015. Epub 2011 Jan 22.


Background: No standard treatment exists for hemorrhagic radiation proctopathy (HRP). Recently it was reported that argon plasma coagulation (APC) is effective for HRP. However, previous studies documented complications such as ulcers, strictures, and perforations in as many as 20% of APC-treated patients.

Objective: The aim of this study was to determine the optimal parameters for APC by using swine rectum and to assess the safety and effectiveness of APC in HRP patients.

Design: Prospective case series.

Setting: University teaching hospital.

Patients: Sixty-five patients with HRP were prospectively enrolled between 2000 and 2010.

Interventions: APC for HRP.

Main outcome measurements: Optimal APC parameters, number of treatments, success rate, complications, clinical remissions.

Results: APC in swine rectal wall ex vivo was optimal with a 40-W current, 1.2-L/min gas flow rate, and 2-second application, which was sufficient to treat the submucosal telangiectasia but did not adversely affect the muscle layer. Sixty-five patients (46 men, 19 women; median age 72 years) with HRP occurring at a mean of 20 months after radiotherapy were studied. Proctopathy was classified as grade A (mild) in 7 patients (10.8%), grade B (moderate) in 41 (63.1%), and grade C (severe) in 17 (26.2%). The treatment success rate was 98.5% after a median of 2 (range 1-5) APC sessions. The median clinical score for rectal bleeding was significantly decreased after APC (P < .0001), and the hemoglobin level was significantly increased (P < .0001). APC was well tolerated, and no significant side effects or complications occurred. During a mean follow-up of 34.6 months (range 3.6 -121.1 months), 4 patients (6.3%) had minor recurrent rectal bleeding and 60 (93.8%) remained in remission.

Limitations: Nonrandomized study.

Conclusions: HRP treatment with optimal APC settings yields a high success rate and long-lasting clinical remission with no significant complications.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Animals
  • Argon Plasma Coagulation / methods*
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / etiology
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / surgery
  • Lasers, Gas / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Radiation Injuries / complications
  • Rectum / pathology
  • Rectum / radiation effects
  • Rectum / surgery*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Swine
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / radiotherapy