A Randomized Controlled Trial of Novel Treatment for Hemorrhagic Radiation Proctitis

Document Type : Research Articles


1 Department of Surgery, Sibu Hospital, Sarawak, Malaysia.

2 Department of Surgery, Sarawak General Hospital(SGH), Sarawak, Malaysia.

3 Colorectal Unit, Department of Surgery, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia(UKM), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.


Background: Various methods have been used for treatment of hemorrhagic radiation proctitis (HRP) with variable results. Currently, the preferred treatment is formalin application or endoscopic therapy with argon plasma coagulation. Recently, a novel therapy with colonic water irrigation and oral antibiotics showed promising results and more effective compared to 4% formalin application for HRP. The study objective is to compare the effect of water irrigation and oral antibiotics versus 4% formalin application in improving per rectal bleeding due to HRP and related symptoms such as diarrhoea, tenesmus, stool frequency, stool urgency and endoscopic findings. Methods: We conducted a study on 34 patients with HRP and randomly assigned the patients to two treatment arm groups (n=17). The formalin group underwent 4% formalin dab and another session 4 weeks later. The irrigation group self-administered daily rectal irrigation at home for 8 weeks and consumed oral metronidazole and ciprofloxacin during the first one week. We measured the patients’ symptoms and endoscopic findings before and after total of 8 weeks of treatment in both groups. Results: Our study showed that HRP patients had reduced per rectal bleeding (p = 0.003) in formalin group, whereas irrigation group showed reduced diarrhoea (p=0.018) and tenesmus (p=0.024) symptoms. The comparison between the two treatment arms showed that irrigation technique was better than formalin technique for tenesmus (p=0.043) symptom only. Conclusion: This novel treatment showed benefit in treating HRP. It could be a new treatment option which is safe and conveniently self-administered at home or used as a combination with other therapies to improve the treatment outcome for HRP.


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