Background: Argon plasma coagulator was prospectively compared with heater probe in patients with bleeding peptic ulcers.
Methods: Forty-one patients with major stigmata of ulcer hemorrhage were randomly assigned to receive either heater probe (n = 20) or argon plasma coagulation (n = 21) treatment; 40% had active bleeding and 60% had a nonbleeding visible vessel in the ulcer crater. The two groups were similar with respect to all background variables. Episodes of recurrent bleeding were retreated with the same modality as used previously. Patients in whom treatment or retreatment failed underwent emergency surgery.
Results: Initial hemostasis (95% vs. 95.2%), recurrent bleeding (21% vs. 15%), 30-day mortality (5% vs. 4.7%), and emergency surgery (15% vs. 9.5%) were comparable in the heater probe and argon plasma coagulation groups, respectively. Argon plasma coagulation provided faster hemostasis (mean 60 +/- 19 vs. 115 +/- 28 seconds, p < 0.05).
Conclusions: Argon plasma coagulation is safe and effective. Larger studies in patients with bleeding peptic ulcers are needed to confirm these promising results.