Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) has the patient breathing pure oxygen in a pressurized environment. Under usual circumstances, oxygen in the blood is carried to body tissue by red blood cells only. HBOT allows inhaled oxygen to be carried not only by the red blood cells but also by the blood plasma which usually carries only tiny amounts of oxygen. One of the primary benefits of HBOT is stimulation of blood vessel growth into areas that have been deprived of oxygen due to poor blood flow. Increased blood flow to the area of an oxygen-starved wound also results in increased activity of infection fighting white cells.
Hyperbaric medicine treats wounds that are not healing properly and have not responded to standard medical treatment. These wounds are often a result of:
- Diabetic lower extremity wounds - open sores on the foot or leg, especially those involving infection or gangrene.
- Skin graft or flap preservation following plastic surgery or amputation
- Radiation injury - abnormal tissue breakdown following radiation therapy for cancer (called osteoradionecrosis when it involves bone)
- Chronic, refractory osteomyelitis - bone infection that has not resolved with standard antibiotic therapy
What to Expect
The Wound Care Clinic has state-of-the-art hyperbaric chambers made from transparent acrylic material that allow the patient a clear view of their surroundings and continuous contact with the hyperbaric technician. Each chamber also has a flat screen TV allowing the patient to watch live TV or movies on DVD during their treatment. Those who would prefer to listen to music instead have that option.
At the time of each treatment, you will spend about 90-minutes in a pressurized chamber breathing pure oxygen. During this time, you will be able to rest, listen to music, or watch a movie. You will have constant communication with a technician outside the chamber.
When the treatment starts, you may feel pressure in your ears, similar to an airplane landing. Your physician and technician can offer tips to ease this effect.
For the best outcomes, you'll be asked to quit smoking or using other tobacco products during the period of your treatment. Tobacco products along with certain medications decrease your body's ability to transport oxygen.
Preparing for Treatments
You will want to bring a list of medications, including over-the-counter vitamins and non-prescription medications you are taking.
It is important that you do not drink alcohol or carbonated drinks for four hours before treatment.
Do not wear cosmetics, perfumes, hair products, skin lotions & products, deodorants, wigs, or jewelry. You may be asked to remove your dentures, hearing aids, contact lenses, and glasses. You cannot bring any electronic devices or other loose material (books, magazines, etc.) into the chamber with you.
Before your treatments, your technician will want to know:
- If you've had changes to your medication (prescribed and over-the-counter)
- If you think you are pregnant
- If you are not feeling good - cold or flu symptoms such as congestion, sore throat, headache, body aches, vomiting or diarrhea which could temporarily delay your treatment schedule
- If you are feeling anxious or you have other concerns