Radiation Damage

Soft Tissue Radionecrosis

*is a complication of cancer radiation therapy, especially external beam radiation therapy (EBRT). Necrosis means the death of cells in bones, organs, and soft tissues. Side effects of radiation therapy may not present a health problem for months or even years after treatment.

To irradiate a cancer tumor physicians and technicians always risk damaging nearby soft tissue and bone. Delayed radiation injuries most often stem from scarring and restricted blood flow near the tumor treatment site. The linings of blood vessels and the gastrointestinal tract are especially vulnerable to radiation damage. Radionecrosis may also be caused by radiation overdose or by misdirected beams of radiation, whether resulting from human error or from device malfunction.  

Hyperbaric oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is widely accepted as an effective treatment for delayed radiation injuries.  HBOT works by improving blood circulation, supplying more oxygen to damaged tissue, reducing scarring, and increasing stem cell activity. Common treatment sites include the jaw, neck, and pelvis.

Important: Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is used to treat delayed radiation injuries, not for acute radiation injuries, acute radiation syndrome (ARS), or radiation poisoning.  

*Refernce; HyperbaricLink


Osteoradionecrosis (ORN) is bone that has died as a complication of radiation therapy. It occurs because radiation inevitably destroys normal cells and blood vessels, as well as tumor cells. Damage to the small arteries reduces circulation to the area, depriving it of oxygen and other necessary nutrients. This process is gradual and may take many months or years to appear.

If you require surgery to the affected area, the wound may not heal. Oxygen delivered at hyperbaric pressures has been shown to produce new blood vessels in the irradiated area and stimulate wound healing. This results in a long-term improvement in the quality of the tissue.

Hyperbaric oxygen is given to radiation patients to prevent osteoradionecrosis (ORN) following dental extraction: Studies show that the chance of getting ORN is reduced from 28 percent to 5 percent with hyperbaric oxygen treatment.  Hyperbaric oxygen is also given to repair damage from established osteoradionecrosis: Improvement is documented in 83 percent of cases treated with hyperbaric oxygen.

If you had radiation to the head and neck region, you may be experiencing a reduction in saliva. This may affect your speech and swallowing. Some hyperbaric patients have found that salivation has improved during their course of treatment.

Hyperbaric oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is widely accepted as an effective treatment for delayed radiation injuries.  HBOT benefits include the following:

  1. Increasing oxygen promotes tiny new blood vessels to grow inside and around the radiation site. As you grow more blood vessels, more oxygen rich blood can reach the affected area.
  2. Decreasing swelling (edema) around the radiation site. Decreasing the swelling allows the blood to flow more freely to the area, bringing with it oxygen.
  3. High oxygen levels increase the ability of the ‘infection fighting’ cells (white blood cells) to kill bacteria.


Mike Dowling shares his experience treating with Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Osteoradionecrosis

Thomas Calkins shares his experience treating with Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Radionecrosis