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Rev Esp Enferm Dig. 2004 Nov;96(11):758-64.

Efficacy and safety of argon plasma coagulation for the treatment of hemorrhagic radiation proctitis.

[Article in English, Spanish]

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Unidad de Aparato Digestivo, Hospital Virgen de la Concha, Zamora, Spain.



To evaluate the efficacy, safety and medium-/long-term clinical course of patients undergoing endoscopic treatment with argon plasma coagulation for hemorrhagic radiation proctopathy.


Descriptive, retrospective study with medium- and long-term follow-up.


Ten patients were treated with argon plasma coagulation for hemorrhagic radiation proctopathy between July 1998 and February 2003. Inclusion criteria were: evidence of chronic rectal bleeding, consistent endoscopic findings, and absence of any other cause of hematochezia after a comprehensive ano-rectal examination and complete colonoscopy. The equipment used was a standard colonoscope, an argon delivery unit, an argon plasma coagulation probe 1.5 mm in internal diameter, and a high-frequency electrosurgical generator. Consecutive treatment sessions were programmed whenever it was considered necessary until all mucosal lesions had been treated. Clinical and evolutive follow-up was performed with a focus on tolerance, efficacy, and potential argon plasma coagulation-related complications. Data were updated by personal or telephonic interview.


In all patients, chronic rectal bleeding stopped after the last treatment session. The mean number of treatment sessions to stop symptoms was 1.7. Mean follow-up was 31.1 months. All sessions were well tolerated, similarly to standard rectoscopy. In one case a recurrence of rectal bleeding was observed four months later, which required two repeat sessions. Four patients were anemic at inclusion. Three of them reported a resolved anemia at the end of the study. No delayed argon plasma coagulation-related complications such us ulcers or strictures were seen.


Argon plasma coagulation appears to be a useful, effective and safe treatment for rectal bleeding resulting from chronic radiation proctitis when compared to standard medical and endoscopic treatments. These successful outcomes seem to persist even after long-term follow-up.

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