Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a form of treatment in which the patient breathes in 100% oxygen at pressure greater than normal atmospheric (sea level) pressure. At the Nanticoke Wound Care & Hyperbaric Center, the treatment is given in a pressurized device called a monoplace chamber.
What are the benefits of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBO)?
There are several benefits that result from this exposure to hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBO). Whether alone or combined with other medical or surgical treatment, HBO supports the healing process via:
- Hyperoxygenation (high levels of oxygen in the bloodstream and surrounding tissues) : Providing increased oxygen to tissues with inadequate blood flow. The elevated pressure in the hyperbaric oxygen chamber increases the amount of oxygen carried in the bloodstream and the spread of oxygen into surrounding tissues.
- Neovascularization (formation of new blood vessels): Providing a lasting positive effect in tissues that had previously had poor blood supply, such as those damaged by radiation therapy, diabetic ulcers, and chronic osteomyelitis.
- Antimicrobial activity (control of infection) : As a result of improved oxygenation, the white blood cells in the bloodstream fight infection more effectively. HBO also supports antibiotic therapy to work more effectively.
- Vasoconstriction (narrowing of the blood vessels) : Which results in decreased swelling, in conditions such a grafts or burns.
What are the approved indications for hyperbaric oxygen therapy?
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is covered by Medicare and most commercial insurances for numerous conditions or indications:
- Enhancement of healing – problem wounds: HBO supports the body’s ability to heal when inadequate oxygenation has been identified as the barrier to progress.
- Compromised skin grafts or flaps: When a grafts or flap begins to fail, HBO has been shown to improve success in healing. HBO can also be used to prepare the area for surgical revision if needed.
- Osteoradionecrosis: This damage to the mandible (jawbone) and gum tissues as a result of radiation therapy can be repaired using HBO. Oral surgeons will request HBO before they perform procedures, as HBO has been shown to improve healing.
- Radiation tissue injury: Tissues exposed to radiation therapy may have problems with blood flow to the area, years of the radiation was given. HBO supports improved oxygen levels and helps form new blood vessels in the damaged tissues.
- Chronic refractory osteomyelitis (infected bone): When removal of the infected bone and antibiotic treatment do not resolve this problem, the use of HBO has been shown to support treatment of infection and result in healing.