Argon plasma coagulation has a long-lasting therapeutic effect in patients with chronic radiation proctitis

G Karamanolis, K Triantafyllou, Z Tsiamoulos, D Polymeros, T Kalli, N Misailidis, S D Ladas
Endoscopy 2009, 41 (6): 529-31

BACKGROUND AND STUDY AIMS: The optimal treatment of bleeding due to radiation proctitis is still controversial. Although argon plasma coagulation (APC) has been recently reported as an effective treatment, its efficacy in relation to disease severity is unknown. The study aims were to prospectively evaluate (i) the efficacy of APC in endoscopically mild and severe radiation proctitis, and (ii) the recurrence rate following successful treatment.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: 56 patients (mean age 68.4 years) with radiation proctitis after radiotherapy for prostate cancer were studied. All presented with rectal bleeding, occurring a median 21.5 months after radiotherapy. Using an established scoring system, patients were classified into two groups, with mild or severe disease. We also examined the correlation between endoscopic severity and hemoglobin level as a more objective measure of bleeding activity. Success was defined either as cessation of bleeding or a significant reduction so that further treatment was not required.

RESULTS: Proctitis was classified as mild in 27 patients (48%) and severe in 29 (52%). Endoscopically judged severity and hemoglobin level showed good correlation (R = 0.58). All patients with mild proctitis and 23/29 (79%) with severe disease were successfully treated (P < 0.05). During a follow-up of a mean of 17.9 months (range 6-33), 34/38 patients (89.5%) remained in clinical remission. Recurrence was higher in those using anticoagulant or aspirin (P = 0.02).

CONCLUSIONS: APC is highly effective in all patients with mild radiation proctitis and in the majority of those with severe disease, providing long-lasting clinical remission.

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