Delayed Radiation Injury to Soft Tissues
Soft Tissue Radionecrosis
Complications from Radiation Therapy

Includes, but not limited to: 

Radiation Cystitis
Radiation Proctitis and Enteritis
Oral Cavity Delayed Soft Tissue Radiation Injury

Laryngeal Necrosis
Abdominal, Pelvic and Other Soft Tissue Wounds due to Radiation Therapy 
Neurological Injuries Secondary to Radiation Therapy


Radiation therapy can cause acute, sub acute, and delayed injuries. Acute and sub acute injuries occur during or soon after completion of radiation therapy and are generally self-limited. However, delayed injuries are often persistent, are much more difficult to treat and may appear anywhere from 3 months to years after completion of radiation therapy treatment. These injuries can cause significant debilitation to patients. Often, delayed injuries are precipitated by an additional tissue insult such as a procedure or surgery within the radiation field. While the exact causes and biochemical processes leading to delayed radiation injury are complex and are not yet fully understood, the generally accepted explanation is that these complications result from damage, scarring and narrowing of the blood vessels within the tissues.

Radiation damage can occur anywhere in the body that radiotherapy has been used to treat cancer. Radiation to the urinary bladder can cause pain, incontinence and bleeding, this is called hemorrhagic cystitis. Radiation proctitis or enteritis can occur when there is radiation to the area of the lower GI tract. This can cause pain, incontinence, spasms, diarrhea, and bleeding. Additional radiation injuries in this area can lead to fistula formation or wounds directly connected to the bowel. Delayed radiation injury to other soft tissue locations can cause wounds, pain and neurolgical deficits.


Hyperbaric oxygen therapy offers significant beneficial effects for these conditions as well as other radiation damaged soft tissues and is the only treatment that has been shown in clinical trials to reverse the damaging affects of radiation. It has been used successfully in the treatment of delayed radiation injury for over 30 for years. Hyperbaric oxygen treatment allows more oxygen to reach these radiation damaged areas. A series of hyperbaric oxygen treatments can help to stimulate new blood vessels to grow. This gives the body the opportunity to heal and significantly improve, if not totally relieve patients of their presenting symptoms.  Hyperbaric oxygen also increases the ability of infection-fighting white blood cells to kill harmful bacteria and accelerate healing. If surgery is necessary in the area of previous radiation, post operative healing may be impaired. Oxygen delivered at hyperbaric pressures helps prepare tissues for healing by producing new blood vessels in irradiated areas. The treatments can improve surgical outcomes, including improving the success of skin grafting or skin flaps, if needed.


Additional indications for hyperbaric oxygen therapy may be discussed with your doctor and the Hyperbaric Medicine Team. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is usually used as an adjunct to additional care the patient is receiving. Additional treatments may also include antibiotic therapy, nutritional support, and surgical procedures, if indicated.  Our Hyperbaric Medicine Team will work closely with your physician(s) to coordinate any additional care needed.

Contact the Hyperbaric Medicine Department at MemorialCare, Long Beach Medical Center for more information.

MemorialCare, Long Beach Medical Center
Department of Hyperbaric Medicine
2801 Atlantic Avenue
Long Beach, California 90806

Telephone: (562) 933-6960

 Fax: (562) 933-6060