Argon Plasma Coagulation Cost Procedure Risks Benefits Overview

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Argon Plasma Coagulation Cost Procedure Risks Benefits Overview

What is argon plasma coagulation?
Argon plasma coagulation (APC), also called argon photocoagulation, is a medical procedure performed during a bronchoscopy, colonoscopy or upper endoscopy. Providers use it to treat a variety of conditions in your gastrointestinal system or lungs and airways.

APC uses ionized gas and an electrical current to create blood clots or scars, which can help by stopping internal bleeding or removing growths. It’s a minimally invasive method to access your organs without incisions (cuts).

What does argon plasma coagulation do?
Your healthcare provider may recommend APC to:

Argon Plasma Coagulation Risks and BenefitsAddress weight gain after weight loss (to tighten an area that has stretched out).
Reduce the size of a tumor if you can’t have more extensive surgery.
Remove polyps.
Stop or seal internal bleeding from lesions along your digestive tract, like rectal bleeding or gastric antral vascular ectasia syndrome (known as watermelon stomach).
Treat Barrett’s esophagus or conditions in your lungs or airway.
Who performs argon plasma coagulation?
A gastroenterologist — a physician specializing in the digestive system — usually performs an APC on the digestive tract. A pulmonologist — a physician specializing in the lungs and airway — also may perform the procedure.

Is argon plasma coagulation the same as ablation?
APC is a specific type of ablation therapy. It uses a form of heat to destroy abnormal tissues.

Procedure Details
What happens before argon plasma coagulation?
Preparation for argon plasma coagulation depends on whether you have it during:

Bronchoscopy, which accesses your lungs through your nose or mouth.
Colonoscopy, which examines the inside of your large intestine (colon).
Upper endoscopy and double balloon enteroscopy, which examine your esophagus, stomach and small intestine.
Your healthcare team may ask you to avoid eating or drinking for several hours before the procedure. Or they may prescribe bowel preparation to clear out your digestive system beforehand. They also may ask you to temporarily stop taking certain medications, like aspirin and blood thinners.

How does argon plasma coagulation work?
Your physician may recommend anesthesia to keep you comfortable during APC. This requires inserting a thin tube in your vein (called an intravenous line or IV).

Then, your gastroenterologist will:

Have you lie down on a treatment table or bed.
Insert a thin, flexible scope into your body via your mouth or nose (upper endoscopy or bronchoscopy) or your anus (colonoscopy). The scope has a tiny light and camera at the end to guide the procedure.
Place a grounding pad near your body to protect you from the electrical current.
Use a catheter to insert an argon plasma coagulation device through the scope and thread it to the appropriate place inside your body.
Release argon gas through the catheter and then ignite it using the electrical current.
Adjust the position of the catheter and the levels of argon gas and electrical current, as needed.
Remove the scope, catheter and grounding pad when finished.
Argon plasma coagulation usually takes 15 minutes to an hour.

What are the side effects of argon plasma coagulation?
After the procedure, you’ll stay in a recovery room as you wake up from anesthesia. You may experience some side effects, including:

Bloated stomach.
Gas and gas pain.
Lightheadedness or fatigue.
Is argon plasma coagulation painful?
Your healthcare team will use anesthesia so you don’t feel pain during the procedure.
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