How Hyperbaric Medicine Works

The medical profession has known for some time that providing 100 percent oxygen by facemask has certain benefits. (Keep in mind the air we breathe contains 21 percent oxygen.) By providing 100 percent pure oxygen in a pressurized chamber, patients receive 2 to 3 times more oxygen than by inhaling oxygen through a mask.

This hyperbaric (high pressure) dose of oxygen greatly increases the amount of oxygen the bloodstream can deliver to body tissues, and this offers distinct therapeutic benefits.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy To receive this therapy, patients lie down in a pressurized chamber, which is then compressed to a specific level, using pure oxygen.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Treats Common Conditions

Heal wounds and preserve damaged tissues.
Some wounds are resistant to healing because they're hypoxic (they don't receive enough oxygen). Delivering increased oxygen to injured tissues can help control infections. Examples include chronic bone infection and diabetic wounds of the lower extremities.

Treat delayed radiation injuries.
Some patients of radiation treatments (for example, for prostate cancer) may have bladder or colon problems because these organs are in the radiated field. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy helps resolve these problems.

Conditions Referred to Hyperbaric Medicine

  • Osteoradionecrosis (mandible)
  • As an adjunctive therapy
  • Crush injury, compartment syndrome (other acute ischemias)
  • To enhance healing (hypoxic and diabetic wounds)
  • Exceptional blood loss anemia (patient refusal of blood, cross matching difficulties)
  • Necrotizing soft tissue infections (subcutaneous tissue, muscle, fascia)
  • Radiation tissue injury (bone and soft tissue complications)
  • Chronic osteomyelitis (refractory to bone cultured antibiotics and surgical debridements)