Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is a medical treatment performed with high pressure oxygen to aid in the process of healing diseased or damaged tissues. The treatment is administered as the patient lies comfortably in a specially designed pressurized chamber containing 100% oxygen. The chamber is usually pressurized to a level at least two times the pressure at sea level. When breathing pure oxygen at these pressures, a significant amount of oxygen is dissolved into the blood and this may be beneficial in the treatment of many medical problems involving the lack of oxygen.

HBOT can assist in the healing of wounds caused by diabetes and poor circulation. It can also be used to treat other difficult wounds such as necrotizing infections(“flesh eating bacteria”), radiation tissue damage (usually from cancer treatment), and bone infections.

The benefits derived from hyperbaric oxygen therapy result from an oxygen-enriched bloodstream, not from the direct contact of oxygen to the wound. The additional pressure causes extra oxygen to be dissolved in to the blood, providing extra oxygen to all the tissues of the body. combination of high pressure and pure oxygen drives the life-giving oxygen

Based on your needs, hyperbaric oxygen therapy can provide the following benefits:

  • Wound healing
  • Preservation of damaged tissue
  • Increased blood vessel formation
  • Infection control

There are three steps in hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatments:

  1. Pressurization: The pressure in the chamber is slowly increased to the prescribed level which may cause the temperature inside the chamber to increase slightly. This extra pressure may case a sense of fullness in your ears. Technicians will instruct you in the best way to “clear” your ears to relieve this sensation, which are similar to those experienced when flying in an airplane. Pressurization usually takes about ten to fifteen minutes.
  2. Treatment: Once the pressure reaches the prescribed level, you will continue to receive 100% oxygen while resting comfortably in the chamber. This step takes about 90 to 110 minutes.
  3. Decompression: After the treatment is completed, the pressure in the chamber is gradually reduced to normal levels. The temperature in the chamber may decrease, and a blanket will be available should you need it.

Each chamber is equipped with its own television so that you can watch TV or a movie during your treatment. You may not bring anything in the chamber with you, including books and newspapers. Many patients simply use this time to catch up on some well-deserved rest.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is painless. Some patients experience discomfort during the pressurization phase of treatment (at the beginning). The slow increase in pressure inside the chamber increases the air pressure on your eardrums, creating a sensation similar to what you might experience when landing in an airplane or diving to the bottom of a swimming pool. Our technicians will instruct you about different methods of relieving this ear pressure.

The St. Luke’s The Woodlands Hospital Wound Care Clinic has very strict procedures that assure your safety and make your treatment as comfortable as possible. Before beginning your first session, you will be given a thorough orientation to help you fully understand the whole treatment process.

The number of treatments you receive will depend on your specific problem and your body’s response to therapy. Each session usually lasts 90-120 minutes, and treatments are most effective if given consecutively. Therefore, patient commitment isvital to the healing process.

Here are some factors in determining how many treatments you will need:

  • Long standing infections and other wounds may need 20 to 60 treatments over the course of several weeks.
  • Outpatients will be treated once daily, five days per week.