Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy


Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is a treatment involving the breathing of pure oxygen inside a sealed chamber that is pressurized at a level higher than normal atmospheric pressure. This allows the lungs to take in more oxygen than when normally breathing. The extra oxygen then dissolves in the blood and circulates throughout the body, stimulating the body to release growth factors and stem cells, which are two substances that facilitate healing.

An adequate supply of oxygen is imperative to the functioning of the body’s tissues. When that tissue is injured, it requires a higher quantity of oxygen in order to heal. However, due to the oxygen-binding capacity of the blood’s hemoglobin, very little oxygen is able to be transported by the blood’s plasma under normal atmospheric pressure. When HBOT is utilized, oxygen transport by the plasma is significantly increased. As the blood circulates a greater amount of oxygen, it promotes healing and temporarily restores tissue functioning.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is used to treat both chronic wounds and systemic illnesses such as carbon monoxide poisoning and air or gas embolism. Patients are entirely enclosed in a pressure chamber where they breathe oxygen at a pressure greater than the pressure of oxygen at sea level (known as 1 atmosphere). You may receive treatment in one of two settings, depending upon the reason for the treatment. The first setting is a monoplace chamber designed for one person. In this chamber, you lie down on a padded table that slides into a clear plastic tube approximately 7 feet in length. The second setting is a multiplace chamber designed for two or more people and it resembles a hospital waiting room. Patients may sit or lie down while oxygen is administered through a clear, lightweight hood, a mask, or a breathing tube. Each session lasts one to two hours with members of the health care team monitoring each patient throughout the duration of the treatment.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy in our wound care centers is used for the treatment of conditions such as diabetic foot ulcers, compromised skin grafts and flaps, postsurgical infections, limb-threatening amputations, crush injury, and chronic refractory osteomyelitis. Its goal is for the high concentrations of oxygen to increase local cellular oxygen tension, resulting in wound healing.