Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a treatment in which the patient breathes 100% pure oxygen while inside a pressurized chamber. The air pressure inside a hyperbaric oxygen chamber is about two and a half times greater than the normal pressure in the atmosphere. This “hyperbaric” (or high pressure) dose of oxygen helps your blood carry more oxygen to your organs and tissues to promote wound healing. It also activates the white blood cells to fight infection.
Patients typically receive hyperbaric oxygen therapy five days a week for approximately four to six weeks. One treatment takes about two hours and is quite comfortable for most patients.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy may be used as part of the treatment for certain conditions, including the following:
- Slow to heal or non-healing wounds
- Diabetic foot ulcers or leg ulcers
- Non-healing skin grafts or surgical flaps
- Surgical wounds that have opened
- Symptoms occurring on or around a point of radiation (such as pain, rectal or bladder bleeding)
- Chronic bone infections (osteomyelitis)
- Crush injuries
- Certain types of sudden hearing loss
- Sudden vision loss
- Thermal burns
Preparing for Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
At the KSB Center for Wound Healing, a staff member will tell you how many treatments you will need. During your treatment, you may watch television, a movie or take a nap.
You will be given a hospital gown to wear in the chamber. No cosmetics, perfumes, hair preparations, deodorants, wigs, jewelry or electronic devices are allowed in the chamber. Most pacemakers are allowed in the chamber. The hyperbaric technologist will need to know if you are taking any medications, including non-prescription drugs. You are advised not to drink alcohol or carbonated beverages for four hours prior to treatment.
Smoking and the use of tobacco products interferes with the body’s ability to transport oxygen. Therefore, your doctor will work with you on techniques to help stop smoking during the treatment period.