Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is used to treat:
- Chronic wounds
- Compromised skin grafts or flaps
- Tissue injury from radiation therapy
- Chronic refractory osteomyelitis, or bone infection
- Necrotizing soft tissue infections
- Gas gangrene
- Serious insufficient blood flow to the limbs
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Thermal burns
- Exceptional anemia
- Decompression sickness
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy
Your care team may recommend hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), a painless, non-invasive treatment that can help your wound heal more quickly. During HBOT, you lie in a see-through chamber while breathing 100 percent oxygen. (Air you breathe in daily life is only 21 percent oxygen.) This strengthens your body’s immune response to fight infections and helps grow new blood vessels, which can lead to new, healthy tissue at the wound.
You’ll need a doctor’s referral to determine whether hyperbaric oxygen therapy is right for you.
What is the typical treatment plan?
Treatments are generally two hours, five days a week. The number of treatments is determined during an initial evaluation by the doctor. Patients are reassessed daily.
What is the typical treatment process?
All patients are initially seen and assessed by a hyperbaric medicine doctor, who discusses the diagnosis and treatment plan. The patient receives detailed instructions and education from the hyperbaric staff, including a list of items that can’t be worn or taken inside the chamber for safety reasons. These include hair spray, nail polish, perfume, makeup, pantyhose, petroleum or Vaseline-based products, wigs or hair pieces, aftershave, or synthetic material, watches, pens, lighters, cigarettes, and matches. Personal items can be placed in a locker. Patients wear a cotton gown provided by staff. Once the patient is comfortable in the chamber, it is pressurized. The patient can watch television, listen to music, relax, or sleep.
Common side effects
There are very few side effects. Patients may experience temporary, subtle improvement or worsening of vision during the course of the treatment. After treatment ends, vision usually reverts to its pre-treatment state. Patients may notice a popping or fullness in the ears, similar to that experienced while flying. This is temporary and can be prevented by performing simple maneuvers learned before treatment begins. Some patients experience confinement anxiety; this can usually be overcome by instructions from staff and if needed medication.
Does insurance cover hyperbaric oxygen therapy?
Insurance usually pays for treatments for accepted diagnosis, but coverage can vary. Please talk with your insurer.