, Volume 22, Issue 6, pp 1715-1726
Date: 29 Mar 2014

Systematic review of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for the treatment of non-neurological soft tissue radiation-related injuries

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper was to provide an evidence-based evaluation of the safety and effectiveness of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) for the treatment of non-neurological soft tissue radiation-related injuries (STRI).

Methods

Systematic searches of medical bibliographic databases, the Internet, and lists of references were conducted in December 2010 and April 2013 to identify relevant primary studies. Inclusion and classification of papers was resolved through the application of a predetermined protocol. Information on both the safety and effectiveness of HBOT was analyzed.

Results

Forty-one articles were included, with 11 comparing HBOT to a regimen without HBOT. Comparative evidence varied considerably in methodological quality, and numerous limitations were identified. Absolute data showed that serious adverse events after HBOT were rare, while more common adverse events were minor and self-limiting. Compared to observation, conventional, or sham therapies, evidence of benefit in clinical outcomes was shown for HBOT for radiation proctitis and wounds in irradiated soft tissue of the head and neck, but not for postirradiation soft tissue edema or radiation cystitis. Clinical outcomes differed little between HBOT and argon plasma coagulation for radiation proctitis and between HBOT and hyaluronic acid for radiation cystitis.

Conclusions

HBOT is a safe intervention which may offer clinical benefits to patients suffering from radiation proctitis and non-neurological STRI of the head and neck. However, differing clinical responses across STRI demonstrate a need for further well-designed clinical trials to validate the use of HBOT for individual STRI, both as an adjunct to conventional treatments and relative to definitive treatments.