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HBOT for complications arising from conventional Radiation Therapy

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) allows patients to breathe in pure oxygen within a pressurized chamber.


What is HBOT?

Oxygen makes up approximately 20% of the air which we inhale. Patients undergoing Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) inhale 100% oxygen circulated within a pressurized chamber. The air pressure is increased within the chamber so that patients’ lungs are able to absorb higher levels of oxygen as compared to breathing at normal air pressure levels.

How does HBOT work?

HBOT increases the amount of oxygen carried by blood supply around the body. This in turn increases oxygen levels throughout the body, especially if levels are low due to injury or illness. The increase in oxygen levels can positively impact the patient’s body in various ways: 

  • New blood vessel formation is accelerated as tissues receive more oxygen and nutrients. 
  • White blood cells are better able to kill bacteria and prevent infection
  • As a result, damaged tissues are able to recover more quickly and effectively

 This non-invasive treatment is carried out in daily outpatient sessions at our dedicated partner HBOT facility.

Osteoradionecrosis is a complication of traditional radiation therapy to the head and neck where bone damage leading to bone death occurs in the treated region. Bone damage can also occur when radiation therapy is delivered to other parts of the body. The risks of osteoradionecrosis increases when the patient undergoes surgery after radiation therapy. Symptoms of osteoradionecrosis include pain, swelling, a sore/ulcer in the mouth or on the jaw, and difficulty opening the jaw (trismus). Receiving HBOT prior to surgery, after previous radiation therapy to the head and neck region can prevent and reduce damage to the jaw bone. This is because HBOT will encourage new blood vessel and bone tissue growth in the affected region.

Radiation-induced soft tissue fibrosis is a long term complication of external beam radiotherapy. It usually occurs progressively, with fibrotic (scar) tissue replacing normal soft tissue matrix within the area of previous irradiation. It may affect a wide variety of soft tissues, including muscles, organs and skin. Symptoms experienced by the patient depends on the area affected by fibrosis. There may be skin induration and thickening for breast cancer patients, or muscle shortening and atrophy experienced by sarcoma patients. HBOT increases oxygenation of the patient undergoing therapy, thus enabling new blood vessel growth in the affected regions.

Radiation Therapy can disrupt and delay the normal process of wound healing. Hence, wounds may heal more slowly, exposing patients to infections and issues related to slow wound-healing. These wounds are usually inflamed, swollen, and painful, affecting patients’ quality of life. HBOT allows increased oxygen intake by the body. This encourages wound healing at the cellular level as more oxygen and nutrients is delivered to damaged tissues, allowing new blood vessel formations. As a result, HBOT overcomes infection and tissue damage which is obstructing effective healing.

Brain radiation necrosis is permanent death of brain tissue as a late side-effect of receiving high-dose radiation therapy, such as Gamma Knife radiosurgery or stereotactic radiosurgery. This only occurs in the area of the brain which received radiation therapy. The symptoms of brain radiation necrosis are varied as it is dependent on the area affected within the brain. Several common symptoms include headaches, memory loss, drowsiness, personality changes and seizures. HBOT raises the levels of oxygen within the body and may initiate cellular and vascular repair mechanisms within the damaged areas.

Traditional radiation therapy to the pelvis area may cause long-term inflammation of the bladder (chronic cystitis). The inflammation may occur months or years after the completion of radiation therapy. Symptoms include:

  • Passing urine (peeing) more frequently
  • Pain and/or difficulty in passing urine
  • Haematuria, defined by having blood in urine

Chronic Radiation Proctitis is a possible long-term side effect of radiation therapy to the pelvic area. The lining of the rectum is chronically inflamed and a common symptom is bleeding from the rectum. Treatment of chronic radiation proctitis may include sucralfate enemas and HBOT.

What to expect for Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)

HBOT sessions are as simple as you lying down to take a nap or read a book. Here are what our patients go through in their HBOT treatment journey

  1. Consult our cancer specialists

Our experienced oncologists specializing in the management of long term radiation therapy complications will determine if HBOT is suitable for your condition

  1.  Orientation and preparation

Our experienced healthcare team will orientate you to the available pressurized chambers and answer any questions about HBOT.

We will be providing comfortable pajamas, or you could bring cotton pajamas from home for your treatment. As oxygen is a highly flammable material, only reading material can be brought inside the chambers. Jewelry, mobile devices, and personal belongings must be removed and kept outside of the chambers. An anti-static band will be placed on your wrist before you enter the chamber.

  1. Undergoing HBOT 

Each session of HBOT will last approximately 60 to 90 minutes. You will lie down comfortably on a bed and will be able to nap or read a book during each session. You will be monitored throughout the session at all times by our experienced team.

  1. After treatment

You will exit from the chamber and will be able to leave the facility after changing back into your street clothes and retrieving your belongings. We will be providing you with the treatment schedule for your next scheduled session and our concierge details should you have any queries.

Our Cancer Specialists

Dr Jonathan Teh

Dr. Jonathan Teh Yi Hui

Senior Radiation Oncologist

Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS/SBRT), Head & Neck, Pediatric, Urologic, Gastrointestinal Cancers & Sarcoma

Dr Jonathan Teh

Dr Daniel Tan Yat Harn

Medical Director & Senior Radiation Oncologist

Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS/SBRT), Brain and Spine, Breast and Prostate Cancers

Dr David Tan Boon Harn

Dr David Tan Boon Harn

Senior Radiation Oncologist

Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS/SBRT), Gynaecological, Gastrointestinal & Lung Cancers