What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is a medical treatment by which 100% oxygen is administrated at greater than normal pressure in order to treat specific medical indications.
Long established as the primary therapy in the treatment of medical disorders such as carbon monoxide poisoning and gas gangrene, Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is now increasingly being used as an adjunctive therapy in the management of variety disorders, refractory to standard medical and surgical care (including cosmetic surgery, sport medicine as well as aesthetic and therapeutic applications).
How Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Works?
The patient is placed in a specially designed chamber. The pressure in the chamber is increased, and 100% oxygen is breathed (the air we normally breath contains only 19% to 21% of this essential element). HBO treatment pressures are usually between 2 or 3 times grater than normal atmospheric pressure.
Therapy last from 1 to 2 hours at full pressure depending of the patient medical condition. During the process of HBO therapy, cells become saturated with oxygen to a far grater degree than they ever could be under normal pressure.
Benefits of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
Oxygen is essential to any healing process. Through HBOT, the concentration of the oxygen dissolved in the bloodstream is thus raised many times above normal (up to 2000%). This high concentration of oxygen is used to accelerate the healing process (tissue regeneration via neo-angiogenesis) after any plastic surgery, wound care, burn victims, many neuralgic, orthopedic and emergency conditions as well as systematic-degenerative diseases.
In addition to the blood, all body fluids (including the lymph and cerebral-spinal fluids) are infused with the healing benefits of this molecular oxygen.
It can reach bone and tissues which are not accessible by the red blood cells, enhance white blood cells function, and promote the formation of new capillary and peripheral blood vessels (neo-angiogenesis). The result in the application of this therapy is reflected on an increased control of infections and a faster healing of a wide range of medical conditions.
With HBOT, patients have remained free of opportunistic infections, experiencing relief from chronic fatigue and maintain their body weight.
It is important emphasize, that in addition to the specific purpose for its use, HBOT has been shown to be particularly effective as aesthetic treatment for rejuvenation, anti-aging (skin toner, cellulite and wrinkles reduction). More saturation of oxygen in tissues will result in high levels of collagen, and stimulation of the immune system (among other benefits).
Also, some patients report mind clarity and more concentration, renewed energy and reduction of fatigue following HBOT treatments. Other uses are for the treatment of certain cardiovascular conditions. HBOT has also increasingly used by professional sports teams and Olympic athletes to improve their strength and performance as well as for faster healing in injuries.
Frequent Asked Questions
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) usually triggers curiosity and some common sense questions. The most frequently asked questions in layman’s language are:
HBOT could be combined with other treatments?
HBOT has been proven to be effective in treating many diseases (see chart below). It does not replace other reliable treatments such as surgery and medication, but is generally prescribed in conjunction with other treatments.
Are there any side effects or after effects?
The most common effect is a “fullness” or popping sensation in the patient ears which last only briefly. This sensation is the same as experienced in an airplane during ascent and decent. Those who can fly with minimal ear problems can very likely undergo HBOT very easily. When patients are placed in the HBOT chamber is carefully monitored by a medical attendant at all times. Communication through a built-in audio intercom allows the patient, the attendant and doctor to be in constant communication.
What are the treatments like?
HBOT treatments include three phases:
Compression, Prescribed HBO Treatment Time and Decompression.
Compression: After the doors are closed, you can hear the compressing gas circulate. You can feel a “fullness” in your ears like flying or mountain driving. The attendant communicates with you and the speed of compression is adjusted to your comfort level.
Prescribed Treatment: Treatments begin when pressure reaches the prescribed level (each medical condition has its own protocol of treatment). During the treatment you may rest, sleep, listen to music or read a book.
Decompression: The attendant let you know when the treatment is complete. The pressure then is slowly lowered at the rate which is comfortable for your ears. Ten to fifteen minutes later the decompression process is complete and door is opened.
Length of treatment: Approximately 1:30 hr.
What medical conditions and pathologies are treated with HBOT?
Accepted indications for Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy involve a wide range of clinical conditions including:
Air or Gas Embolism Decompression Sickness
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Closed Head Injuries
Blast Crush Injury (compartment syndrome, and other acute traumatic ischemia)
Selected Refractory Anaerobic Infections
Exceptional Blood Loss (Anemia)
Necrotizing Soft Tissue
Radiation Necrosis (Osteoradionecrosis and Soft Tissue Radiation Necrosis)
Side effects of Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy (related with cancer treatments)
Compromised Skin Grafts or Flaps
Specific Neurologic Indications
Cerebral Edema (toxic encephalopathy, vasogenic, traumatic)
Spinal Cord Contusion (physiological trans-section, partial motor or sensory loss)
Early Organic Brain Syndrome
Stroke (acute, chronic)
Vegetative Coma (close head injury, hypoxic encephalopathy)
Multiple Sclerosis (acute, relapsing, remitting, chronic progressive)
Cranial Nerve Syndromes (trigeminal neuralgia, optic neuritis, vestibular disorders,
sudden deafness) Peripheral Neuropathy, Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease
Soft Tissue Swelling (traumatic, cellulites-infection)
Acute & Chronic Ostiomielitis
Peripheral Vascular Ulcer (arterial decubitus, neuropathy, venous)
Gangrene (wet & dry)
Retinal Artery Occlusion Retinal Vein Thrombosis
Pseudo membranous Colitis
Rheumatoid Arthritis (acute)
Radiation Cystitis & Enteritis