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Keywords:

  • bone marrow transplantation;
  • infection rate;
  • mucositis;
  • nutritional status;
  • oral cryotherapy;
  • total parenteral nutrition

Aim and objective.  To investigate if oral cryotherapy during myeloablative therapy may influence frequency and severity of mucositis, nutritional status and infection rate after bone marrow transplantation.

Background.  Patients treated with intensive myeloablative treatment before bone marrow transplantation are all at risk to develop mucositis. Oral mucositis causes severe pain and oral dysfunction, which can contribute to local and systemic infections and bleeding; it may even interrupt cancer therapy. Oral mucositis also decreases the oral food intake, which increases the risk for malnutrition and infection. Reduced food intake, loss of fat and muscles, alterations in energy and substrate metabolism leads to malnutrition.

Design.  A randomised controlled trial with a random assignment to experimental or control group.

Method.  A stratified randomisation was used with regard to the type of transplantation. Mucositis was measured on WHO mucositis scale. Number of days of total parenteral nutrition, infection rate, weight, albumin levels and days at hospital was compared.

Results.  There were significantly fewer patients in the experimental group with mucositis grade 3–4 than in the control group and significantly lower number of days in the hospital (allogeneic patients). Less total parenteral nutrition was needed in the experimental group in both settings, and the S-albumin level was significantly better preserved. No significant difference could be found with regard to infection rate.

Conclusion.  Oral cryotherapy reduced mucositis, number of hospital days, the need for total parenteral nutrition and resulted in a better nutritional status.

Relevance to clinical practice.  Nurses caring for patients treated with myeloablative therapy should place high priority to prevent oral mucositis and hereby reduce its side effects.