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Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2004 Nov;16(12):1315-8.

Argon plasma coagulation in the treatment of hemorrhagic radiation proctitis is efficient but requires a perfect colonic cleansing to be safe.

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  • 1Department of Gastroenterology, Rouen University Hospital Charles Nicolle, Rouen, France.



We evaluate prospectively effectiveness, tolerance, predictive factors of failure and complications of argon plasma coagulation (APC) in the treatment of hemorrhagic radiation proctitis (HRP).


Twenty-seven patients were treated by APC for HRP. Eight patients needed blood transfusion before APC. Six patients were anti-coagulated and one had severe thrombocytopenia. APC was performed without sedation in 25/27 patients. Before APC treatment, bowel preparation was performed by enema (n = 19 sessions), polyethylene glycol or sodium phosphate (n = 53 sessions). APC treatment was performed every 5 weeks. Effectiveness of APC was based on clinical and endoscopic score and biological status before and after APC treatment.


The mean follow-up was 13.6 months (range, 3-31 months). After one to seven sessions of APC (average, 2.66 sessions), twenty-five patients (92%) had no recurrence of bleeding. The bleeding score decreased from 3.03 to 0.42 (P < 0.001) and the endoscopic score from 3.08 to 0.73 (P < 0.001). Out of the eight patients requiring blood transfusion prior to APC sessions, only one required blood transfusion after APC (P < 0.05). One late relapse was observed and successfully re-treated by APC. Side effects were anal or rectal pain (n = 3) and vagal symptoms (n = 2). Three colonic explosions occurred, with perforation leading to surgery in one case. The incidence of bowel explosion was higher after local preparation (3/19 sessions) compared with oral preparation (0/53 sessions) (P < 0.05). No stricture due to APC appeared, even if telangiectasias coagulated during a session were circumferential.


Coagulation by APC is an effective and safe treatment of HRP if a complete cleansing preparation is performed to avoid explosion.

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