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Revista Colombiana de Gastroenterologia

Print version ISSN 0120-9957


CASTANO LLANO, Rodrigo et al. Argon plasma coagulation versus aplication of 4 percent formalin for the treatment of radiation induced hemorrhagic proctitis. Rev Col Gastroenterol [online]. 2007, vol.22, n.2, pp.87-94. ISSN 0120-9957.

Background: Radiation proctitis is a common complication of radiotherapy for pelvic malignancy. In more severe form, it leads to intractable or massive hemorrhage, which may require repeated hospital admissions and blood transfusions. Medical therapy in patients with radiation proctitis is usually ineffective, whereas surgery is associated with a high morbidity and mortality. Objectives: to compare the therapeutic results of the Argon Plasma Coagulator (AP) (ERBE USA, Inc., Marietta, GA, USA) application in patients with radiation proctitis-induced haemorrhage versus a historic cohort treated with 4% formalin irrigation. Material and Methods: AP was performed, applying the no-touch spotting technique at an electrical power of 50-60 Watt and an argon gas flow of 2 l/min. Pulse duration was less than 1 second. Treatment sessions were carried out at intervals of 2-4 weeks when was required. Patients with formalin were treated by a single operator using 20 mL of a 4% solution of formalin instilled into the rectum via a flexible colonoscope for 5 minutes. The technique used ensured minimal contact with formalin Results: The two groups were comparable in terms of age, sex, and diagnosis. Twenty six patients (24 females) with hemorrhagic radiation proctitis were treated with endoluminal formalin and 21 with AP (18 females). Patients with formalin were treated with radiotherapy at a median time of 14 months (range, 7-28 months) previously and 9 months (range, 6-18) in AP therapy. The median duration of time of symptomatic rectal haemorrhage before formalin therapy was 7 months (range, 4-14 months) and 5,5 months (range, 3-11 months). The median number of units of blood transfused previously per patient was 2,6 (range, 0-6) and 1,8. Three patients required repeat formalin application and four in AP group. There was not severe bleeding with any of the groups of treatment, nor was any blood transfusion needed, at follow-up mean of 20 months (range, 6-35 months). Conclusions: Formalin 4% therapy is a simple, inexpensive, and effective treatment for hemorrhagic radiation proctitis and could be compared with argon plasma treatment.

Keywords : Actinic proctitis; rectal bleeding; argon plasma coagulation; formol.

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