Advances in the medical management of the severe cutaneous radiation syndrome
Carsin, H.; Stephannazi, J. ; Gourmelon, P
IRPA-10: 10. international congress of the International Radiation Protection Association Hiroshima (Japan) 14-19 May 2000, P-11-223.
The cutaneous radiation syndrome is a dose dependant complex pathological syndrome which follows a brief localized exposure and characterized by erythema, swelling, moist desquamation, ulceration and necrosis (25-30 Gy). Highly penetrating gamma radiation induces severe dose dependent lesions involving skin, subcutaneous tissue, muscle, vessels, nerves and occasionally, bony structures. The classical treatment of this syndrome includes the debridement of devitalized tissues, the application of bacteriostatic agents coated in non-adherent dressings, opiate-based drugs and in some cases the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. For ulceration and necrosis treatment, the classical surgery is ulcerectomy, necrectomy and amputation for the distal extremity injuries. For the profound et large necrosis, the lesion should be excised and the wound bed covered with a good quality, full-thickness skin graft. Unfortunately the delayed of appearance of this syndrome results often in non specialized medical treatment. Furthermore, because of the chronic evolution (months or years) the management of the cutaneous radiation syndrome has not been considered as a priority for the medical management. Recent accident like the Georgian accident demonstrated that new techniques such as artificial skin graft could change significantly patient prognosis. This technique is routinely used for thermal burn in specialized burn units. We realized the first application of this methodology in the field of radiopathology. An important factor of this technique is that in the case of recurrence of radionecrosis. Often observed, using this technique further grafting may be employed. However the success of this procedure depends on an effective control of the infection. These has sadly been illustrated in the last accident case in Peru where it was impossible to perform the artificial skin graft due to the persistence of a non-eradicated local infection. Whether this particular approach has a utility following extensive beta exposure will be discussed. Thus, our experience shows that in case of very severe cutaneous lesions involving deep tissues and large ulcerations caused by high penetrating radiation, it is essential that the patient be transferred rapidly to a specialized burn treatment unit.
Work in collaboration with Percy Hospital (Clamart, France)