Can oxygen therapy help fistulas — A Balanced Belly

If you follow my blog, then you’ll know I’ve written a lot about here about fistulas and my experience with them. They’re definitely one of the most stressful parts about having Crohn’s disease and living with fistulas isn’t easy!

What are fistulas?

Fistulas are abnormal connections between two organs (such as the skin and the anus or rectum and vagina) that can cause serious health issues. Treating them is a complex process that requires specialized care and treatment.

They are fairly common with Crohn’s disease patients, affecting 1 in 3 patients at some point. But they can be caused by an underlying medical condition, injury, or infection, following on from an abscess.

How are fistulas currently treated?

A fistulotomy is a surgical procedure that can be used to close the fistula, allowing for further healing. Seton techniques involve placing a thread through the fistula to keep it open and allow drainage. Sometimes, biological medication for Crohn’s disease is given as it can help heal fistulas, reduce inflammation, and prevent new tracts from forming.

What is Oxygen therapy and how is it being used for fistulas?

Oxygen therapy is a medical treatment that is used to supplement the body’s natural oxygen supply. It involves the administration of additional oxygen, either through inhalation or intravenous delivery or being placed in a chamber that is filled with pure oxygen.

This therapy is thought to treat a variety of conditions and diseases. For example, oxygen therapy can be used to treat respiratory diseases, such as COPD and asthma, as well as other health problems like anemia. It can also be used to improve athletic performance and recovery.

However, excitingly, oxygen therapy could now be one of the most effective ways to treat fistulas, as it helps to reduce inflammation and promote healing. This is being trialed with fistula patients by the patient being placed in an oxygen chamber, which is full of pure oxygen. This is then intended to fill the blood and repair tissues.

Can oxygen therapy help fistulas

Yes! As you may know, not all fistula treatments have a great success rate, but an overview of studies found this actually could be really promising.

An analysis of 15 previous studies found that Crohn’s patients with fistulas who received this treatment had a response rate of 87%; with clinical response usually being described as a significant improvement, such as the closure of at least 50% of fistulas.

This varied between the types of fistulas, for example, the highest success rate was perianal fistulas (89%) whilst the lowest was rectovaginal fistulas as 29%, which are often the most complex to treat.

Not only does this suggest a potentially more effective fistula treatment but it also is much less invasive than current protocols since both fistulatomies with or without setons require surgery and a long period of recovery and healing.

For full information on the study, click here.

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