Endoscopic treatment of chronic radiation proctopathy

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Chronic radiation proctopathy is a complication of pelvic radiation therapy. The acute phase of radiation injury to the rectum occurs during or up to 3 months following radiation. Acute radiation injury can continue into a chronic phase or chronic radiation proctopathy may develop after a latent period of several months or years. Symptoms associated with the condition include diarrhea, rectal pain, bleeding, tenesmus, and stricture formation. Of the various symptoms, only bleeding from radiation-induced telangiectasias is amenable to endoscopic therapy. This paper summarizes the findings of experts in the field on endoscopic treatment of bleeding from chronic radiation proctopathy.

Recent findings

Medical management is generally ineffective in controlling bleeding from chronic radiation proctopathy. Surgical intervention has a high incidence of morbidity. Promising advances have been made in endoscopic therapy, including formalin, neodymium/yttrium aluminum garnet, argon and potassium titanyl phosphate laser treatments, as well as argon plasma coagulation. Argon plasma coagulation presents an effective, efficient, inexpensive and reasonably safe noncontact method for destruction of radiation telangiectasias.

Summary

Based on currently available data and trends, argon plasma coagulation is the favored treatment for bleeding from chronic radiation proctopathy.

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