Late effects of radiation/hyperbaric oxygen treatment

chessie Member Posts: 40
edited March 2014 in Breast Cancer #1
Hi everyone. I haven't posted in a long time. I am almost at the 2 year anniversary mark (since diagnosis). Like the other girl who posted earlier today, I also feel worse at times that I did during treatment. (pain is a constant battle.) I too have a herniated disk and may need surgery. Back in June, my implant (pocket) became infected while I was on a Medrol dose pack for my back pain. I was hospitalized and had to have the implant removed. Since then, the incision would not heal entirely (due to radiation), so I just finished my 16th hyperbaric oxygen treatment. The wound has finally started to heal. So, I'm on the mend, but now need to get something done with my back. Cortizone injection vs. microdiscectomy. Anyway, just wanted to check in. I recently quit my job so I could go to town everyday for these treatments. After I get back to feeling better, I will go back to working again, somewhere. I have learned that even after cancer treatment has ended, it can have long lasting implications on our health. Even 'late effects' of radiation can be devistating. But, what choice to you have - you gotta roll with the punches. At least I'm here!Anyone else been through hyperbaric 02 treatment? I would be interested to hear from you.


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  • gdpawel
    gdpawel Member Posts: 523 Member
    The most common condition treated at some Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Centers is tissue injury caused by brain radiation therapy for cancer. Wound healing requires oxygen delivery to the injured tissues. Radiation damaged tissue has lost blood supply and is oxygen deprived. Chronic radiation complications result from scarring and narrowing of the blood vessels within the area which has received the treatment. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy provides a better healing environment and leads to the growth of new blood vessels in a process called re-vascularization. It also fights infection by direct bacteriocidal effects. Using hyperbaric treatment protocols, "most" patients with chronic radiation injuries can be cured.

    Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is administered by delivering 100 percent oxygen at pressures greater than atmospheric (sea level) pressure to a patient in an enclosed chamber. Hyperbaric oxygen acts as a drug, eliciting varying levels of response at different treatment depths, durations and dosages, and has been proven effective as adjunctive therapy for specifically indicated conditions.

    Oxygen is a natural gas that is absolutely necessary for life and healing. Purified oxygen is defined as a drug but is the most natural of all drugs. Oxygen under pressure is still the same gas but is more able to penetrate into parts of the body where the arterial flow is hindered, producing ischemia (loss of blood flow) and hypoxia (lack of oxygen). When oxygen under pressure is breathed by a patient in a sealed chamber, it is termed a hyperbaric oxygen treatment (HBOT).

    In addition to raising the arterial levels of oxygen 10 to 15 times higher than that produced by normal atmospheric pressure, the pressure exerted within the body can and does exert therapeutic benefits on acute and chronically traumatized and swollen tissus.

    If on medicare, the approved course is 2.0 atm (two times above atmospheric pressure) for 90 minutes 20-30 sessions. For hyperbaric oxygen therapy to be covered under the Medicare program in the United States, the physician must be in constant attendance during the entire treatment. This is a professional activity that cannot be delegated in that it requires independent medical judgment by the physician. The physician must be present, carefully monitoring the patient during the hyperbaric oxygen therapy session and be immediately available should a complication occur. This requirement applies in all settings and no payment will be made by Medicare unless the physician is in constant attendance during the procedure.

    Who Should Avoid This Therapy?

    Avoid these treatments if you have a seizure disorder, emphysema, a high fever, or an upper respiratory infection. Do not undergo them if you have a severe fluid build-up in the sinuses, ears, or other body cavities. Forego them if you've had surgery for optic neuritis, or have ever had a collapsed lung. Avoid them, too, if you are taking doxorubicin (Adriamycin), cisplatin (Platinol), disulfiram (Antabuse), or mafenide acetate (Sulfamylon).

    Pregnancy was once considered a contraindication for hyperbaric therapy. However, it's now deemed acceptable if a condition will cause long-term damage to the mother or fetus. For example, the treatments are given to pregnant women with carbon monoxide poisoning, which is toxic to both mother and child.

    What Side Effects May Occur?

    Seizures, a result of the direct effect of oxygen on the brain, are the most serious side effect associated with hyperbaric therapy. The risk is estimated at one in 5,000. Every chamber is equipped with a quick-release mechanism. If a seizure occurs, the oxygen will be immediately released and the seizure will subside.

    Minor side effects include popping of the ears similar to that experienced in a descending aircraft. Sinus pain, earache, and headache are other possible side effects. In fact, pain may occur in any body cavity where air can get in but can't get out. For example, dental pain may occur if a filling has trapped air beneath it. In rare cases, pressurized oxygen may rupture an eardrum.