The principle objective of this research is to more precisely determine the degree of
benefit that hyperbaric oxygen therapy affords in the treatment of late radiation tissue
The study has eight* components. Seven involve the evaluation of established radionecrosis
at varying anatomic sites (mandible, larynx, skin, bladder, rectum, colon, and gyn). The
eighth will investigate the potential of hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) therapy to prophylax
against late radiation tissue injury.
*(One of the arms, HORTIS IV - Proctitis has been closed to further patient recruitment.
This decision was based on an interim statistical analysis which generated sufficient
evidence to support closing down this arm of HORTIS.)
Radiation therapy is a key component of the control and eradication of malignant disease.
Adequate tumoricidal doses may, however, result in damage to surrounding healthy tissue.
Therapeutic radiation injuries to non-target tissues can be divided into acute, sub-acute,
and delayed complications. Acute injuries are considered a direct cellular toxicity,
self-limiting, and in most cases successfully managed symptomatically. Sub-acute injuries
are typically identifiable in only a few organ systems, e.g., radiation pneumonitis. These,
too, are generally limited but occasionally evolve to late complications. Late changes occur
several months to many years after completing radiotherapy.
The etiology of radiation's late effects to normal tissue (LENT) varies somewhat between
organ systems. Its hallmark, however, is one of culminating in an obliterative endarteritis,
and local hypoxia.
The incidence of LENT is related to both total radiation exposure and the length of time a
patient is out from completing radiotherapy. The higher the dose, the longer the interval
from exposure, the greater the risk. In many cases, resulting radionecrotic lesions
seriously impair form and function, and require extensive surgical correction or repair.
Such surgery is fraught with complications, hence the inclusion of a "prophylactic"
hyperbaric oxygen arm. A disturbing degree of mortality further complicates the development
Hyperbaric oxygen has been utilized in the treatment of radiation tissue injury for several
decades. Most of the supportive basic science and clinical evidence stems from the
management of mandibular osteoradionecrosis. More recently, the use of hyperbaric oxygen has
been extended to other anatomic sites. This expanded use is based, in large part, on a
presumed common underlying pathophysiology of LENT, regardless of its anatomic location.
Supportive clinical evidence for these other sites is limited, however, and in need of a
greater degree of scientific scrutiny.
- Wall Changes
- Mucosal thickening
- Tissue hypoxia
- Reactive airway disease
- Radiographic evidence of pulmonary blebs or bullae
- Untreated pneumothorax
- Previously documented ejection fraction less than 35%
- History of seizures except childhood febrile seizures
- Cardiovascular instability
- Mechanical ventilator support with the exception of those patients who are
immediately (1-5 days) post-operative
- Unable to follow simple commands
- Not orientated to person, place, time
- Participating as a subject in any other medical or biomedical research project; if
previously involved as a subject, sufficient time must have elapsed to permit "wash
out" of any investigational agent.