Hyperbaric oxygen treatment ensures more oxygen gets to the wound area.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a noninvasive, painless procedure that uses a pressurized chamber to increase the amount of oxygen in the blood. During the procedure, the air pressure is increased up to three times higher than normal air pressure, which allows your lungs to take in more oxygen. This allows your blood to carry more oxygen to your tissues, which can help wounds — especially infected wounds — heal more quickly.

This therapy can be used to treat:
  • Air or gas embolisms (bubbles that form in blood vessels)
  • Anemia due to severe blood loss, when transfusions are not possible
  • Bone infections
  • Burns, including thermal, chemical and others
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Decompression sickness
  • Difficult-to-heal sores such as diabetic ulcers, pressure ulcers or wounds affected by peripheral arterial disease
  • Gangrene
  • Infections, including soft tissue and certain types of brain or sinus infections
  • Crush injuries, when insufficient oxygen is available for tissue use
  • Radiation injuries, such as damage resulting from radiation therapy for cancer
  • Skin grafts that aren’t healing with traditional treatment
  • Surgical wounds and adhesions

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is often used in combination with other treatments, and can be used to promote healing after microsurgery, skin grafts and other reconstructive surgeries.

How the Therapy is Performed

The hyperbaric oxygen chamber, known as a monoplace chamber, consists of a clear, seven-foot-long plastic tube, with a padded table that slides into the tube. The chamber is gradually pressurized with pure oxygen, typically rising to 2.5 times the normal atmospheric pressure. You may experience the same sensation in your ears that you feel when you ascend in an airplane, which can be minimized by yawning. Throughout the session, you’ll be monitored by wound care clinicians who are specially trained in hyperbaric medicine.

At the end of the session, which typically takes two hours, the chamber is slowly depressurized. You may feel tired and lightheaded following treatment, but this usually fades within a few minutes.

The number of sessions will depend on your condition, and treatments may be repeated over days or weeks. For example, carbon monoxide poisoning may require shorter, more frequent sessions, whereas therapy for a non-healing wound may require many more sessions. Your Ohio State doctor will determine what’s appropriate for you.

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