Argon Plasma Coagulation (APC)

Overview: The Basics

Argon plasma coagulation (APC), sometimes referred to as argon photocoagulation, is a medical procedure that uses argon gas during a colonoscopy or an upper endoscopy to control bleeding from certain lesions in the gastrointestinal tract. Argon gas can be used as an alternative to cauterization or using a laser to stop internal bleeding.

APC may also be used to de-bulk tumors in patients who are not candidates for surgery.

What to Expect: During the Procedure

Intravenous sedation is typically used for this procedure. An endoscope is inserted and a probe is passed through to the gastrointestinal tract. The probe is placed at a distance and delivers a jet of ionized gas that is directed at the bleeding lesion or tumor. Argon gas is emitted then ionized by an electrical current that results in the coagulation of the lesion or tumor, which stops the bleeding.

The procedure is considered safe, contingent on the colon being cleaned of colonic gases.

What can be found?

APC is used to treat the following conditions:

  • colonic polyps, after polypectomy
  • Barrett’s esophagus
  • esophageal cancer
  • rectal bleeding post-radiation (radiation proctitis)
  • gastric antral vascular ectasia, or “Watermelon stomach”