Hyperbaric oxygen therapy and other adjunctive treatments for zygomycosis

Author(s): Tragiannidis A, Groll AH


Zygomycetes are increasingly reported as a cause of life-threatening invasive fungal infections in profoundly immunocompromised patients and in those with diabetic ketoacidosis. Zygomycosis, typically presents as soft tissue, rhino-orbitocerebral, pulmonary or disseminated disease and is characterized by rapid clinical progression and high mortality rates. Treatment with amphotericin B lipid formulations in combination with surgery and, perhaps, the addition of caspofungin offers the best chance for survival; posaconazole, a new antifungal triazole, is increasingly used for consolidation or maintenance therapy. Because of the poor prognosis of zygomycosis, particularly in immunocompromised cancer patients, adjunctive treatments such as hyperbaric oxygen therapy, use of immunomodulatory cytokines, and in vivo iron starvation continue to be explored. However, although each of these modalities is based on a plausible scientific rationale and has been helpful in the management of individual patients, there is no clinical evidence for their general effectiveness as adjunctive treatments in patients with zygomycosis. Further experimental and clinical investigations are necessary to determine whether and how these treatments can impact on outcome and to determine which patients and which types of infection may benefit from them.

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