Necrotizing fasciitis in the head and neck (NF-HN) is a rare and potentially life-threatening condition. The use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) in the acute regimen is disputed and there is a lack of evidence of therapeutic effect. This study aims to describe a retrospective cohort of patients with NF-HN and investigate the use of HBOT and consequences thereof. All patients treated for NF-HN at Aarhus University Hospital (AUH) between 2002 and 2014 were included in this retrospective cohort. Data regarding demographics, treatment and a one-year follow-up was registered. A review of the literature on NF-HN and HBOT was performed. Forty-three patients were consecutively treated for NF-HN during the period. All patients were treated in accordance with current guidelines with HBOT as a variable. Thirty patients received HBOT, and 13 patients were omitted from HBOT for different reasons. In the HBOT group were no mortalities vs. three mortalities in the non-HBOT group two late deaths due to precursory underlying cancer of the head and neck, and one early death shortly after admittance. We found higher rates of complications (63% vs. 25%) and sequelae (77% vs. 40%) among the HBOT group compared to the non-HBOT group. Our findings suggest that HBOT for NF-HN may only be optional and that the decision relies on an individual assessment of each patient. Further research is needed concerning the evidence of HBOT and towards selecting the patients benefitting from HBOT.

Faunø Thrane, Pikelis, Ovesen, , , , , , (). Hyperbaric oxygen may only be optional in head and neck necrotizing fasciitis: a retrospective analysis of 43 cases and review of the literature. Infectious diseases (London, England), ;49(11-12):792-798. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28644692