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Gastrointest Endosc. 2002 Oct;56(4):467-71.

Argon plasma coagulation prevents variceal recurrence after band ligation of esophageal varices: preliminary results of a prospective randomized trial.

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U.O. di Gastroenterologia, Asl NA5-Ospedale Maresca, Torre del Greco, Italy.



Endoscopic variceal ligation is an established procedure for eradication of esophageal varices. However, varices frequently recur after endoscopic variceal ligation. Argon plasma coagulation has been used as supplemental treatment for eradication of varices and for prevention of variceal recurrence in small uncontrolled series. The aim of this study was to determine whether argon plasma coagulation is effective in reducing variceal recurrence after endoscopic variceal ligation.


Thirty patients with cirrhosis, a history of acute esophageal variceal bleeding, and eradication of varices by endoscopic variceal ligation were randomized to argon plasma coagulation (16 patients) or observation (14 patients). The 2 groups were similar with respect to all background variables including age, Child-Pugh score, presence of gastric varices, and degree of portal hypertensive gastropathy. In the argon plasma coagulation group, the entire esophageal mucosa 4 to 5 cm proximal to the esophagogastric junction was thermocoagulated circumferentially with argon plasma coagulation in 1 to 3 sessions performed at weekly intervals. Endoscopy was performed every 3 months to check for recurrence of varices in both groups.


During the course of the study, no serious complication was noted. After argon plasma coagulation, transient fever occurred in 13 patients and 8 complained of dysphagia or retrosternal pain/discomfort. Mean follow-up for all patients was 16 months (range 9-28 months). No recurrence of varices or variceal hemorrhage was observed in the argon plasma coagulation group, whereas varices recurred in 42.8% (6/14) of the patients in the control group (p < 0.04) and bleeding recurred in 7.2% (1/14).


Argon plasma coagulation of the distal esophageal mucosa after eradication of esophageal varices by endoscopic variceal ligation is safe and effective for reducing the rate of variceal recurrence.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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