Osteoradionecrosis - Portneuf Medical Center


Osteoradionecrosis (ORN) is a problem with bone healing that can occur in people who received high doses of radiation, particularly to the jaw. This complication can occur after dental surgery or extraction of teeth. High doses of radiation can decrease the bone’s blood supply. If this happens, the bone gets less oxygen than it needs, resulting in the death (necrosis) of bone tissue. The most commonly affected bone is the jawbone (mandible). Source:www.mc.vanderbilt.edu

Who is at risk for osteoradionecrosis?

Survivors who received high doses of radiation to the jaw area are at risk for this complication. Radiation fields that often include the jawbone are as follows:

  • Cranial (head/brain)
  • Nasopharyngeal (area above the roof of the mouth)
  • Oropharyngeal (mouth and throat)
  • Neck or spine (“cervical” portion)
  • Supraclavicular (area above the collarbones)
  • Mantle or mini-mantle (neck/underarm/chest areas)
It is important to obtain your medical records so that you know exactly how much radiation you received and where the radiation was directed.

how is osteoradionecrosis treated?

Treatment of ORN is mainly through control of uncomfortable symptoms. Salt-water rinses and light scrubbing of affected tissues may be helpful. Antibiotics may help if a wound becomes infected. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (oxygen delivered in a pressurized chamber) is sometimes used to increase the amount of oxygen given to the affected tissues and improve the chance of healing.

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