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What Is Argon Plasma Coagulation?

Andrew Kirmayer
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Argon plasma coagulation is a surgical procedure used to stop bleeding without touching the tissue being targeted. Used as an alternative to cauterizing blood vessels or using a laser, the process involves the use of a probe that fires argon gas, which closes an electrical current when it hits biological tissues. The tip of the device can be located up to 0.39 inches (1 centimeter) above the surface, and the thermal energy can cut up to 0.78 to 1.18 inches (2 to 3 centimeters) deep. This procedure is used to stop bleeding during surgery or endoscopic procedures, break up tumors, and clear tissue growth from stents.

The heat from argon plasma coagulation evaporates water from in and around cells in the area. It also alters protein such that coagulation occurs on the spot. In addition to the probe, there is a tungsten wire just inside the probe that is capable of producing 6,000 volts of electricity, which creates an ignition source and ionizes the argon gas. A surgical cart used during the procedure also includes an electrosurgical generator, argon gas tanks, a foot pedal, and a control panel. It is possible for power levels to be adjusted during coagulation and for the argon flow to be increased to move debris or residual blood out of view.

During argon plasma coagulation, physicians will place a grounding pad on the patient’s lower back in order to protect them from electric shock. The gas is fired at just two or three seconds at a time from a probe that is 0.09 inches (2.3 millimeters) in diameter, but it could be fired for longer intervals to reach deeper, clot massive bleeding, or break up large tumors. Lesions do not always have to be in direct view, and bleeding can be stopped that is not directly in front of a scope or which is around a fold in tissue.

Rare complications have occurred with argon plasma coagulation, including induction of pneumonia-like conditions when it is used in the airways and lungs. Fires in the airway are rare, and burns from the scope instrument can be prevented by avoiding contact between it and the gas probe. In addition to operations involving the airways, argon plasma coagulation has been used in the upper and lower gastrointestinal tracts to remove both tumors and polyps. The low penetration depth of argon plasma coagulation may result in better safety over alternative procedures.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Andrew Kirmayer
By Andrew Kirmayer , Former Writer
Andrew Kirmayer, a freelance writer with his own online writing business, creates engaging content across various industries and disciplines. With a degree in Creative Writing, he is skilled at writing compelling articles, blogs, press releases, website content, web copy, and more, all with the goal of making the web a more informative and engaging place for all audiences.

Discussion Comments

By SpecialBug — On Jan 10, 2014

Jewellian, the keyword is "rare". There are risk factors to take under consideration in every procedure. A patient who needs this procedure would have to weigh the risk-benefit-ratio. That is the bottom line. Truthfully, there is a risk to any medical procedure. In the case of plasma argon coagulation, it is better than the alternative of bleeding out.

By Jewellian — On Jan 09, 2014
Okay-two things: number one, who would have thought something like this is possible? Secondly, "fires in the airway?" Yikes! Glad to hear it is a rare occurrence. I would be afraid to have argon plasma coagulation therapy.
Andrew Kirmayer

Andrew Kirmayer

Former Writer

Andrew Kirmayer, a freelance writer with his own online writing business, creates engaging content across various...
Learn more
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