radiation burn, infection,open wound

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10/7/2010 5:37pm
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Replies: 4

If anyone out there has any information or been thru treatment for radiation burn and an open wound in a melanoma site, I would appreciate any help you could offer.  My Mom had a very large tumor removed in June in her inguinal canal which was a melanoma, probably metastasis from her big toe which was amputated 5 years ago. The surgical site healed very well. She has two other deeper tumors in her pelvis, that they have left alone as they said her quality of life would be affected. She chose not to do chemotherapy as she is 82 and did not want to feel sick with what time she had.  About 4 weeks after her surgery, a lump reappeared in the area of the tumor that had been removed. Since her lymph glands were involved in the surgery, the surgeon did not want to drain that area as he felt she could end up with a permanent drainage. Her oncologist offered radiation as a way to get microscopic cells left behind in the surgical site and "slow things down". Her organs have been clear.  She had 4 weeks of 5000  ???Grays a day. By week 3 she was badly burned ( raw area on inside of left thigh around 5 to 6 inches long by almost 2 inches wide) and the lump was still there.  Prior to radiation I read the radiologist report which said the lump was fat. They continued treatment until completion. She was told she could end up with a bad sunburn. She ended up with her skin turning black.  She had her do rinses 3 times a day to the site and apply a burn cream.  Early this week she got feverish and yesterday ended up in the hospital. Yesterday where the lump was, (and is?), opened up and a bunch of ( my sister said) blood and pus came pouring out.  She lives in Montana and I live in Washington and I have called my sisters as I feel she needs some Doctors who know about wound care.  The site is being packed and she is on IV antibiotic..  Does anyone know about hyperbaric medicine and wound healing?   Has anyone had a similar experience and has gotten good treatment?  Her skin that was healing from the burns has also been impacted by the infection and/or fluid accumulatiion.  Do you know of ointments or dressings that you have used to keep one area dry and healing while another area close by, is draining and packed? Has anyone had lymphedema cause a similar wound and if so how did they treat your wound? I will be going home soon and any help on what to ask and what to do would be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,

Connie

Hi Connie,

  Wow, your poor mom! It sounds like she is getting good care at the hospital......you can ask if there are special bandages to use at home or maybe in the hospital....my guess is they are using what she needs....I used bandages that have silver imbedded in them, as I had second degree radiation burns last year after radiation. I just had surgery earlier this week to clean up (debride) a surgical site from a melanoma removal that was four months ago......anyways my doctor gave me bandages with silver in them and also one with a seaweed component (I layer them) and the one with silver in it is a different one that last years. So there are different kinds. Not sure silver imbedded bandages is what your mom needs. The surgeon I have asked a wound care specialist in the hospital about me and what should he be using...... (there is an example of a doctor asking a nurse, lol) and thats what he recommended. I change my bandages every 3 days per doctors orders. So see there are bandage and recommendations for all kinds of situations. mIne is a leg wound and not dep, your mom's sounds really open and much deeper. I also was given af the end of radiation because of the extreme redness and pain, a siverdene ointment to use on my leg...I mixed it with equal parts hydrocortisone and lidocaine for the pain and for healing and to reduce inflammation....again ALL were at the treatment of my treating physicians, who had seen my issues before and treated them.

 Good luck,

 Vermont_Donna, stage 3a

So sorry to hear that your mother is going through this along with you and your sisters.  I definitely think you are correct about getting her seen by a wound care clinic.  If there is not one in the same hospital, perhaps they can give you a recommendation.  They may be doing everything right, but it is certainly worth checking.

Healing is so slow in people your mother's age, particularly if they have underlying vascular disease, but it IS possible.  My father was in his mid 80s when he had the front of his foot amputated for melanoma.  He went through wound-vac treatments and eventually hyperbaric oxygen.  The hyperbaric oxygen treatment is not bad at all.  You just have to lie in a chamber for an hour or so 5 days a week.  The biggest problem is that not every hospital has the chambers.  

Absolutely push for a wound care specialist.  My best wishes to your family.

ellen - dads daughter

So sorry to hear that your mother is going through this along with you and your sisters.  I definitely think you are correct about getting her seen by a wound care clinic.  If there is not one in the same hospital, perhaps they can give you a recommendation.  They may be doing everything right, but it is certainly worth checking.

Healing is so slow in people your mother's age, particularly if they have underlying vascular disease, but it IS possible.  My father was in his mid 80s when he had the front of his foot amputated for melanoma.  He went through wound-vac treatments and eventually hyperbaric oxygen.  The hyperbaric oxygen treatment is not bad at all.  You just have to lie in a chamber for an hour or so 5 days a week.  The biggest problem is that not every hospital has the chambers.  

Absolutely push for a wound care specialist.  My best wishes to your family.

ellen - dads daughter

Hi Connie,

The hospital should have a wound care nurse who will be able to recommend what dressings and ointments should be used for your mom. By any chance did they give her silvadene cream? It works quite well on burns and damaged tissue. You should also be able to have home health follow your mom at home and help with dressing changes. The most important thing is make sure that once the dirty dressings are removed the area is kept clean and not contaminated. If needed the person doing the dressing changes might change their gloves before they apply the new dressing. I hope it all gets better. The elderly have thin skin thus they easily develop wounds. keep your mom well nourished this is important for healing. Have her eat a lot of nutritious foods including foods with vitamin C, D, and A. Colorful foods are best they contain a lot of nutrients and antioxidants.