Context: Pediatric patients receiving chemotherapy experience unwanted therapy-induced side effects, commonly constipation and pain that diminish quality of life. To date, few studies have investigated the safety and feasibility of osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) in pediatric oncology.
Objectives: The primary objective of this study is to investigate the safety and feasibility of OMT in pediatric oncology outpatient clinics.
Methods: This is a single institutional pilot study evaluating children aged ≥2–21 years receiving chemotherapy for an oncological diagnosis at Nationwide Children’s Hospital (NCH). Permission was obtained from the NCH Institutional Review Board. Participants were enrolled for 8 weeks and received weekly OMT. OMT was deemed feasible by participating in six out of eight weekly treatments, and safety was assessed through adverse event grading per Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events (CTCAE). During the clinic visit, patients answered validated surveys on constipation (Bristol Stool Scale) and pain (FACES Scale) pre/post-OMT. Feasibility was analyzed utilizing a one-sided exact binomial test while validated tools and adverse events were summarized descriptively.
Results: A total of 23 patients were enrolled, with 21 included in feasibility analyses. The majority of the patients were female (n=13, 61.9%), with a median age of 12 years at enrollment (range, 2.7–20.8 years). There were no serious adverse events attributed to OMT intervention, and among the patients assessed for feasibility, 100% of them participated in at least two-thirds of their weekly OMT treatments, meeting our defined feasibility criteria. The intervention lasted an average of 14.2 min (range, 7.2–19.2 min). There were no FACES or Bristol Stool Scale scores that correlated with worsening pain on constipation post-OMT intervention.
Conclusions: Pediatric oncology patients were feasibly and safely able to receive OMT during a regularly scheduled chemotherapy visit. The limitations include the small sample size. These findings support the need to further investigate the safety and feasibility, as well as efficacy, of OMT in the pediatric oncology clinical setting.