Osteoradionecrosis refers to bone tissue death as a result of radiation. While it can have significant long-term consequences for patients if left untreated, there are a number of effective treatment options. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has in recent years become the first choice for patients in need of effective osteoradionecrosis treatment. Let’s take a look at the causes of osteoradionecrosis and how hyperbaric oxygen therapy can dramatically help patients affected by the condition.
What is Osteoradionecrosis?
Osteoradionecrosis occurs when bone tissue dies as a result of the body’s exposure to radiation. It is a condition which primarily impacts cancer patients who have been treated with radiotherapy. An unavoidable side effect of radiation – which destroys harmful tumor cells – is that it also destroys the body’s healthy cells and blood vessels. The tiny arteries which carry oxygen-rich blood and nutrients to the body tissue are easily damaged and destroyed during radiotherapy, which means that the tissue in the affected area will gradually be deprived of oxygen and so will slowly die. Osteoradionecrosis only affects a small percentage of radiotherapy patients, and the risk of developing it increases when the dosage of radiation is greater than 60 Grays (Gy). Typically, osteoradionecrosis affects patients who have been treated for neck and head cancers, with bone death occurring in the lower jaw (the mandible). Symptoms of osteoradionecrosis include pain, ulcers, infection and/or loss of sensation in the affected area. In developed stages the bone may be fractured or exposed (or sticking out through the skin) in the affected area.
What is HBOT?
Osteoradionecrosis can have serious consequences if it is not treated. Ultimately the use of the lower jaw can be lost, severe infection may result, and reconstructive jaw surgery may be required. However, early detection of osteoradionecrosis and the administering of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) can dramatically reduce the impact of osteoradionecrosis and facilitate healing of the affected area. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy involves exposing patients to 100% pure oxygen in a pressure-controlled chamber. The inhalation of 100% oxygen while in the chamber allows the patient’s blood to carry more oxygen to cells, and oxygen is dissolved in the blood at much higher rate than occurs at normal air pressure. HBOT takes place through regular treatments in which patients lie in the pressure-controlled chambers for up to two hours at a time.
How Does HBOT Help to Heal Osteoradionecrosis?
The increased oxygen levels in the blood supply facilitates healing of the area affected by radiation therapy. Damaged blood vessels are able to heal more quickly as a result of the increased oxygen exposure, and the growth of tiny new vessels are promoted. As the new blood vessels form, the oxygen-deprived tissue is slowly able to start receiving oxygen again, which allows for healing of this tissue and stimulates growth of new bone where dead bone had to be removed. HBOT also reduces swelling in the affected area, which allows blood to flow more freely to the bone tissue so that it can be regenerated. Increased oxygen levels in the blood may also result in improved white blood cell levels, which in turn increases the body’s ability to fight bacteria at sites of infection caused by osteoradionecrosis. While HBOT is not guaranteed to heal osteoradionecrosis, many patients, oral surgeons and physicians report significant improvements to their condition and a number of expert studies have indicated high success rates for HBOT treatment.
Treatment for Osteoradionecrosis in Florida
At RegenQuest we pride ourselves on being the premier providers of HBOT treatment in Florida. From the clinical assessment phase to the administration of HBOT, we are committed to providing you with the best patient care experience as possible. Our hyperbaric chambers are the largest in the industry with a 40.5” internal diameter to ensure optimum comfort during your HBOT treatment. Give us a call today and our professional and friendly staff will happily advise you on the many benefits which HBOT treatment can have for your body during its healing process.