Radiation therapy can be life-saving for patients with many types of cancer. But it’s not a therapy that’s free of side effects. Sometimes, therapy can lead to serious tissue damage, which poses its own risks and problems.
For many people, hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) can help. HBOT uses cutting-edge technology to deliver pure oxygen and promote tissue healing in patients with radiation therapy-related tissue damage.
At Vayu Advanced Wound Clinic and Hyperbarics, wound specialist and hyperbaric doctor Manjulatha Badam, MD, CWSP, UHM, offers advanced hyperbaric oxygen therapy at her state-of-the-art practice in San Antonio, Texas, promoting deep healing in patients with radiation therapy injuries.
Here’s how hyperbaric oxygen therapy works to restore injuries in soft tissues and bones.
The basics of radiation therapy damage
Radiation is a standard therapy for some types of cancer in specific stages. Administered in very precise doses just like any medication therapy, radiation fights cancer by damaging the tumor cells’ DNA, preventing them from replicating.
The problem: Radiation can’t tell the difference between tumor cells and healthy cells, so all cells wind up being damaged.
Radiation may damage cells directly, but often tissue damage happens after radiation therapy damages the blood vessels, causing them to swell and narrow so normal blood flow is prevented. Over time, oxygen deprivation results in tissue death or “necrosis.”
Radiation damage can appear shortly after therapy ends, or it may take months or even years to show up. Typically, the damage only becomes apparent when the area is damaged by an injury or infection.
How HBOT works
Most people think of oxygen therapy as oxygen that’s delivered to your nostrils via a tube (or less often, via a mask covering your nose and mouth). But HBOT is different.
In this therapy, you simply sit and breathe the air inside a special pressurized chamber. The pressure inside the chamber is up to 2.5 times normal air pressure. And that makes a big difference in how oxygen is delivered to your tissues.
Under normal air pressure, oxygen is absorbed through your lungs into your bloodstream, and red blood cells carry the oxygen to other parts of your body. If your red blood cell count is low or if your blood vessels are narrow or partially blocked, it can take a big toll on how that oxygen is delivered.
With HBOT, that added pressure improves oxygen absorption between your lungs and your bloodstream, infusing tissues with oxygen at higher levels and enhancing delivery even to compromised or blocked areas.
In addition, hyperbaric oxygen therapy can help kill germs, support the growth of new, tiny blood vessels, and provide needed support for your immune system. Over time, HBOT can help restore tissues and prevent tissue damage and death. As with any therapy, early treatment is key.
Learn more about HBOT
If you or a loved one has soft tissue or bone injuries from prior radiation therapy, HBOT could be what your body needs to heal and recover.
To learn more about hyperbaric oxygen therapy and how it can help you, call 210-651-1112 or book an appointment online with Dr. Badam and our team at Vayu Advanced Wound Clinic and Hyperbarics today.