Background: Barrett's oesophagus is a premalignant condition. Recent reports have suggested that laser coagulation or photodynamic therapy combined with acid suppression may induce reconstitution of squamous mucosa. However, a high percentage of residual glands remain in cases treated with both techniques. Argon plasma coagulation (APC) appears to be an attractive alternative to other thermoablative techniques. The aim of this study was to investigate the reconstitution of squamous epithelium in Barrett's oesophagus after APC.
Methods: Fifteen patients with histologically proven Barrett's oesophagus were included in a prospective study. After base-line documentation by videotaping and biopsies, Barrett's epithelium was treated by repeated APC at intervals of 4-6 weeks until complete squamous restoration was achieved. All patients were kept under high-dose proton pump inhibitor therapy.
Results: In 13 patients complete reconstitution of squamous epithelium was achieved. Buried glands after squamous restoration were detected transiently in only one case after the first session. As side effects seven patients had mild retrosternal discomfort. One patient reported severe retrosternal pain for 1 week. He then refused further APC sessions. Another patient was excluded because of noncompliance. During the follow-up period (6-13 months) recurrence of Barrett's epithelium was observed in one patient.
Conclusions: APC is a suitable technique for achieving squamous restoration in Barrett's oesophagus. The rare occurrence of remaining buried glands may result from the homogeneous coagulation achieved by the ionized argon gas beam.