Breathing 100% oxygen at increased atmospheric pressure is a painless, proven way to help the body heal. Hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) chambers work by surrounding the patient with 100% oxygen at higher than normal atmospheric pressure in sessions, or dives, that last 90 minutes to two hours. This increases the amount of oxygen in the patient’s blood allowing red blood cells to pass more easily through the plasma into the wounds to heal them from the inside out.
Introduced in the mid-1960’s, HBO chambers have evolved to treat patients suffering from diabetic ulcers, pressure ulcers, infections, compromised skin grafts and flaps, and wounds that haven’t healed within 30 days.
Weighing more than one ton each, the HBO chambers resemble a reclining bed encased in a clear acrylic shell nearly a yard in diameter. Patients can listen to music or watch movies on televisions and VCR/DVD players mounted above the chamber while remaining in constant contact with those outside the chamber through an intercom and private handset. The only physical sensation resulting from the treatment is a slight pressure on the eardrum, such as that felt when a plane lands, as the air in the chamber is compressed.
This non-surgical, painless procedure, called hyperbaric oxygen therapy, allows oxygen molecules to pass through blood plasma more easily and speeds healing. HBO may be used for wounds that haven’t healed in 30 days despite multiple treatments, or for other medical conditions. These include:
- Diabetic ulcers
- Lower leg ulcers
- Bone infections
- Radiation skin irritations
- Post-operative infected wounds
- Wounds from brown recluse spider bites
- Failing or compromised skin/muscle grafts or flaps
- Vascular disorders resulting in poor blood circulation
The Wound Healing Center uses HBO to treat patients referred by a variety of medical specialists. In most instances, Medicare, Medicaid and the majority of insurance plans cover HBO.
Article Provided by:
PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center