Cold vs Hot Polypectomy for Small Polyps

L-C Chang et al. Ann Intern Med. [Epub 21 February 2023]. doi:10.7326/M22-2189. Cold Versus Hot Snare Polypectomy for Small Colorectal Polyps

In this multicenter randomized open-label, single-blind trial of patients (n=4270) 40 years or older (mean age 62 years) with polyps of 4 to 10 mm, cold snare polypectomy (CSP) was compared with hot snare polypectomy (HSP).

Key findings:

  • Eight patients (0.4%) in the CSP group and 31 (1.5%) in the HSP group had delayed bleeding (w/in 14 days) (risk difference, −1.1% [95% CI, −1.7% to −0.5%]).
  • Severe delayed bleeding (drop in Hgb of 2 g/dL) was also lower in the CSP group (1 [0.05%] vs. 8 [0.4%] events; risk difference, −0.3% [CI, −0.6% to −0.05%])
  • The CSP group had fewer emergency service visits than the HSP group (4 [0.2%] vs. 13 [0.6%] visits
  • Polyp type (in Table 2): 70% were adenomas, 5% were sessile polyps, and 23% were nonneoplastic which includes hyperplastic polyps, inflammatory polyps, and nonsignificant lesions. ~56% had a “polypoid morphology” and ~ 44% had a “nonpolypoid morphology.”
  • “Besides an improved safety profile, another advantage of CSP is its high efficiency. This study’s results showed that the time required for polypectomy is reduced by 26.9% with CSP (difference in mean, -44.0 seconds)”

Why is CSP safer?

“The shallower resection depth in CSP is one of the factors contributing to the lower bleeding risk. Besides the tearing force, electrocautery also applies more energy to the soft tissue… (28). Profound submucosal destruction may occur in 60% of cases, and the muscularis propria may be damaged in 20% of patients receiving HSP; however, all cold resections are limited to the shallow submucosa. Because larger vessels are usually located in the deeper submucosa, the shallow resection depth of CSP causes less arterial injury, thereby reducing the risk for delayed bleeding (29).”

My take: It would be helpful to replicate these findings in children mainly due to differences in polyp types that are found. Nevertheless, this study suggests that it is likely more risky to use cautery for small polyps (“including persons using antiplatelet agents or anticoagulants”).

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