Endobronchial Electrosurgery: Argon Plasma Coagulation and Electrocautery


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Abstract

Endobronchial electrosurgery is used to remove endobronchial lesions in the trachea and bronchi, using either a rigid or a flexible bronchoscope. The thermal property of electric current is used to destroy tissue or coagulate bleeding sites. Electrosurgery, electrocautery, electrotherapy, and surgical diathermy are terms often used when referring to the use of heat for tissue destruction. In this article, we specifically use the term electrocautery (EC) to describe an electrosurgical technique that requires probe-to-tissue contact whereby the conduction of electric current ionizes air resulting in tissue destruction or hemostasis or both. In contrast, argon plasma coagulation (APC) is a relatively new electrosurgical method whereby argon gas is ionized by an electric current to create a noncontact, homogeneous “bridge” to target tissue for coagulation or ablation. Both EC and APC are effective in ablating and coagulating tissue. In this article, we further elucidate the basic principles of electrosurgery; indications, complications, and techniques associated with both EC and APC; and how they compare with other standard endobronchial interventions, including mechanical debridement, laser photoresection, cryotherapy, photodynamic therapy (PDT), and brachytherapy

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