Radiation change in the rectum is commonly seen following radiation treatment for prostate cancer. The most common symptom is rectal bleeding in association with rectal inflammation known as radiation proctitis. The bleeding is caused by new blood vessel formation as a result of the inflammation caused by radiation. These blood vessels are fragile and bleed easily. Topical medical therapies are often used and have marginal success. One of the most effective treatments for radiation proctitis is Argon Plasma Coagulation.
Argon Plasma Coagulation (APC) has been used for more than 10 years in open surgery, laparoscopy and Thoracoscopy, especially for hemostasis of large surface bleeding. The instrument does not contact the surface lining of the rectum.
A standard video colonoscope is used to perform the procedure in which a small tube or catheter is passed through this scope.
It conducts monopolar electrosurgical current to tissue via an ionized argon gas stream (argon plasma) that is delivered from a small tube that emanates from the colonoscope. The argon gas is ignited and charged and cause a superficial destruction of these abnormal blood vessels and stops the radiation related bleeding. The APC procedure is performed on an outpatient basis and requires only light or no sedation. APC is consider not only effective, but very safe.