Repeated episodes of acute bowel obstruction is a potential complication following pelvic radiation therapy. It has been previously thought that hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) may not be useful for treatment of such obstructive episodes. We report our experience with the use of HBOT for recurrent radiation-induced acute bowel obstruction. This is a retrospective case series. Radiological imaging had excluded the presence of recurrent or new cancer. Possible predisposing causes for acute obstruction had been treated and had not led to resolution of symptoms or had been excluded. During 2007-2010, five patients with recurrent episodes of acute obstructive bowel symptoms following previous therapeutic pelvic irradiation were referred for HBOT (four females and one male; median age 56; range 48-72). The primary tumours sites were the endometrium (n = 2), ovary, cervix and prostate (n = 1 each), and patients were treated 2-17 (median 9) years previously with radiotherapy. Before HBOT, patients were experiencing acute obstructive bowel symptoms at 1-6 weekly intervals. Four patients had progressive weight loss. Patients received 100 % oxygen in a multiplace hyperbaric chamber at a pressure of 2.4 atm absolute for up to 90 min once a day, 5 to 7 days weekly. All patients were initially referred for 40 sessions of HBOT. Three patients required a further extra 20 sessions for complete resolution of bowel symptoms. HBOT was well tolerated with no side effects. Patients have remained well after 6-24 months of follow-up. HBOT may be an effective treatment of radiation-induced bowel obstruction and deserves prospective evaluation.

Abu-Asi, Andreyev, , , , , , , (2013). The utility of hyperbaric oxygen therapy to treat recurrent acute bowel obstruction after previous pelvic radiotherapy: a case series. Supportive care in cancer : official journal of the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer, 2013 Jul;21(7):1797-800. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23625017