Background: Osteoradionecrosis (ORN) of the mandible is the most serious and severe side effect of combined treatment of head and neck tumors. Due to frequent failure of its conventional management, new methods are being sought and tested, including hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBO); however, effective methods of monitoring HBO results are not yet available. The purpose of our study was to assess thermographic records of ORN patients in different stages of hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
Material/methods: In the years 2003-2008, hyperbaric oxygen was used as an adjunct in the conventional management of 4 patients with progressive osteoradionecrosis of the mandible. The effects of the treatment were evaluated based on the clinical, radiological, and thermographic examinations. In each patient thermograms were obtained before and after HBO.
Results: Clinical examination showed ORN remission following 30 exposures in a hyperbaric chamber at 2.5 atmospheres for 90 minutes. Follow-up thermograms obtained after 35-60 exposures revealed a marked warming of the osteoradionecrotic area of the mandible resulting from an increase in blood supply and tissue metabolism increase. In 1 case of therapy cessation, just 5 sessions of HBO therapy was associated with a decrease in acute inflammation, as manifested by local cooling seen in a follow-up thermogram.
Conclusions: Thermography is an effective method of monitoring HBO results in patients with osteoradionecrosis. However, thermograms should be interpreted in combination with the corresponding clinical picture and radiological findings.