Hyperbaric oxygen is still needed in the management and prevention of mandibular necrosis: A response to Mr. Richard Clarke

Robert E. Marx, John J. Feldmeier, Robert P. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Mr. Richard Clarke presents in this Journal his arguments against continued application of hyperbaric oxygen (HBO2) therapy to the pre-extraction neoadjuvant treatment or the treatment of frank mandibular ORN. In the same article he advocates a promising renewed interest in HBO2 as a radio-sensitizer. Arguments against HBO2 prior to extractions are based on several papers which consistently include low-risk patients. The just-released HOPON trial reports a negative pre-extraction outcome for HBO2, but patients were enrolled with radiation doses as low as 50Gy. For advanced mandibular necrosis (Marx Stage III) requiring resection, fibular free flap reconstruction is advocated. A high complication rate with free flaps is acknowledged but the magnitude of these complications is not discussed. A cost savings for this procedure is suggested, but no mention is made of the typical cost of the procedure ($90,000) or the requirement of a typical one-week hospital stay, including an initial one or two days in the ICU. Nor is mention made of the very low rate of subsequent dental rehabilitation. The success reported by Delainian, et al. employing pentoxifylline, Vitamin E and sometimes a bisphosphonate is equated to the four decades of HBO2 success with the Marx protocol for Stage I and II ORN. In the phase II trial by Delainian (not randomized) six of her 54 patients died secondary to sepsis, and she graded patients as complete responders if 5mm or less bone was exposed. Even at entry patients had an average of only 1.7 cm exposed bone and treatment was prolonged (16 + or –9 months). Any cost comparison studies will have to account for the indirect expenses of this prolonged treatment including lost productivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)399-408
Number of pages10
JournalUndersea and Hyperbaric Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • Complications
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Mandibular osteoradionecrosis
  • Osteoradionecrosis prevention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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