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Complications Associated with Cranial/Brain Radiation

Cranial radiation is used to treat primary or metastatic brain tumors in patients with high risk involvement of the nervous system. Primary focus is to reduce the volume of the tumor and prevent further complications associated with an expanding mass within the brain. Complications associated with radiation of cranial tissues typically seen in young or the elderly and based on the number of treatment doses performed. It can be found to be acute or chronic lasting for multiple years after treatment.

Common Acute Symptoms:


  1. Fatigue is the most common side effect of cranial radiation occurring in over 90% of patients during radiation therapy and can last several months after treatment cessation.
  2. Loss of appetite; more than half the patients with radiation to the nervous system undergo anorexia and have less desire to eat and typically would not find food to be appetizing.
  3. Radiation-associated alopecia or scalp dermatitis. It is found to be partial or complete with frequency occurring with higher dose radiation to be seen in conjunction with chemotherapeutic medications.
  4. Headaches; they can range from mild-moderate to severe could be due to mass affect from the tumor itself post-radiation edema typically treated with the use of glucocorticoids and pain management.
  5. Nausea and vomiting; due to the side effect of any intracranial treatment option usually associated with loss of appetite can be treated with steroids and antiemetics.
  6. Hearing problems; secondary to otitis media, conductive hearing loss, may have ringing in the ears or acute sensorineural hearing loss.
Treatment options: Is based on the patient’s signs and symptoms associated with intracranial radiation. Consultation with your neurosurgeon or neurologist to devise a treatment plan focusing on reduction of edema to assist with pressure buildup and use of corticosteroids.

Hyperbaric oxygen can help reduced neurological symptoms associated with brain tissue edema and acute or chronic inflammation resulting in symptoms. In some cases of known brain tissue necrosis it can assist with prevention of extension further. Treatment plans may be constructed based on neurological symptoms. However, the possibility of seizure activity associated with cerebral radiation increases and the patient should be placed on antiepileptics to prevent possibility of oxygen-induced seizures if using hyperbarics as a treatment plan.
Yadwinder Dhillon, MD

YD-182730/ST052/004
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support@azwound.com

(480) 580 2001

Mon.-Fri. 8am-4pm

1450 S. Dobson Rd, Suite B-122,
Mesa, AZ 85202