Comparative Effectiveness and Safety of Radiofrequency Ablation Versus Argon Plasma Coagulation for Treatment of Gastric Antral Vascular Ectasia: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

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Background and Aims:Although argon plasma coagulation (APC) is the current standard endoscopic treatment for gastric antral vascular ectasia (GAVE), radiofrequency ablation (RFA) has emerged as an attractive alternative. The aim of this study was to perform a systematic review and meta-analysis to evaluate the comparative effectiveness and safety of RFA and APC in the treatment of GAVE.Materials and Methods:Searches of PubMed, EMBASE, Web of Science, and Cochrane Library databases along with major gastroenterology annual meetings were performed through March 2017. Measured outcomes for comparative effectiveness and safety including improvement in hemoglobin levels, transfusion dependence, number of treatment sessions, complications, follow-up, and author-reported endoscopic success were compared among RFA and APC studies.Results:In total, 24 studies (n=508) involving APC and 9 studies (n=104) on RFA were included. Mean age of patients included was comparable in both groups (65.33±7.80 y for APC vs. 66.96±6.23 y for RFA; P=0.98). Pooled mean follow-up was significantly longer for APC compared with RFA (19.52±13.11 vs. 7.43±3.72 mo; P<0.001). In total, 47% of RFA patients were refractory to previous treatment with APC. RFA required fewer mean treatment sessions compared with APC (2.10 vs. 3.39, respectively; P<0.001). RFA resulted in fewer and less severe complications as compared with APC (1.92% vs. 5.12%, respectively; P<0.001). Although the reported endoscopic success was better with RFA compared with APC (97% vs. 66%; P<0.001), the posttreatment pooled hemoglobin increase and reduction in transfusion dependence was higher for APC compared with RFA [weighted mean difference 3.10 g/dL (95% confidence interval, 2.92-3.28) vs. 1.95 g/dL (95% confidence interval, 1.62-2.26); P<0.001; and 88% vs. 66%; P<0.001, for APC and RFA, respectively].Conclusions:There is limited long-term data on RFA for GAVE; however, available evidence suggests RFA has a comparable efficacy and tolerability compared with APC. In addition, RFA seems to be effective for APC-refractory GAVE patients. Future controlled trials are needed to directly compare treatment efficacy, long-term durability, safety, and cost-effectiveness between these interventions.

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