Radiation Injures are soft tissue injuries usually arising from exposure to radiation: secondary to treatment for malignancy. The use of radiation to treat cancers of the head, neck, and other areas of the body has become an acceptable method employed by physicians to help destroy tumors and masses. However, radiation not only destroys the targeted tumor, but it sometimes causes destruction to the surrounding soft tissue. When the surrounding non-cancerous soft tissue is damaged the condition is known as Soft Tissue Radionecrosis. Although having a similar etiology, soft tissue radionecrosis should not be confused with osteoradionecrosis, which affects the bone.

 

Radiation administered over a period of time can cause a reduction in the amount of blood flow to the irradiated area by damaging small blood vessels. This reduction in blood flow may lead to a condition of hypoxia (reduction of oxygen to tissue). Oxygen is essential to the healing process and the restoration of blood flow to tissue is critical for healing to occur. The process by which oxygen promotes healing is a complex one involving several stages. However, without adequate blood flow, healing will not occur. HBO therapy is the administration of 100% oxygen under pressure. This added pressure increases tissue oxygenation by up to two to three times normal. This is accomplished because HBO therapy causes oxygen to dissolve directly into the plasma. Additionally HBO therapy has the added benefit of promoting angiogenesis (new blood vessel growth), reducing inflammation, and increasing the body’s defenses against infection.

HBO Therapy for the treatment of irradiated tissue damage has been around since the 1970’s and has been shown to be an effective adjunct to conventional treatment of this condition, both pre-operatively and post-operatively.

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