Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
Breathing 100% oxygen at increased atmospheric pressure is a painless, proven way to help the body heal. Hyperbaric oxygen 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-'60s, HBO chambers have evolved to treat patients suffering from diabetic ulcers, pressure ulcers, infections, compromised skin grafts, 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.
Where can I get HBO treatment?
CMS (Medicare) lists the following indications as approved coverage for HBOT, in order of decreasing utilization:
- Diabetic wounds of the lower extremities (DWLE)
- Soft tissue radionecrosis
- Compromised grafts
- Chronic refractory osteomyelitis
- Acute peripheral arterial insufficiency
- Progressive necrotizing infections
- Crush injuries
- Acute traumatic peripheral ischemia
- Gas gangrene
- Acute carbon monoxide intoxication
- Decompression illness/sickness
- Gas embolism
- Cyanide poisoning
Additional UHMS-approved indications
- Thermal burns
- Exceptional blood loss anemia
- Intracranial abscess