Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

A senior couple walking with their petWhat is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is an adjunctive therapy in which the patient breathes 100 percent oxygen while enclosed in a pressurized chamber at greater-than-normal atmospheric pressure. While breathing pure oxygen, the patient's blood plasma becomes saturated, carrying 15 to 20 times the normal amount of oxygen to the body's tissues. The ultimate result is that the body's natural wound-healing mechanisms, which are oxygen dependent, are able to function more efficiently. About 18 percent of wound care patients may require hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

Common Uses

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is an important adjunct in the treatment of non-healing wounds. An established technology, hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been shown to help in treating:

  • Select problem wounds
  • Radiation tissue damage
  • Crush injuries
  • Compromised skin grafts, flaps and replants
  • Acute traumatic ischemia
  • Diabetic ulcer of the lower extremity
  • Necrotizing soft tissue infections
  • Refractory osteomyelitis
  • Compromised skin grafts, flaps and replants
  • Gas gangrene
  • Non emergency carbon monoxide poisoning


Hyperbaric oxygen therapy involves the systemic delivery of oxygen to patients placed in a chamber at two to three times atmospheric pressure. While in the chamber, patients breathe 100 percent oxygen for 90 to 120 minutes. This helps accelerate the healing process.

The effects of increased oxygen tension include:

  • Vasoconstriction and the reduction of edema in the area of trauma for crush injuries
  • Increase in oxygen diffusion distance from functioning capillaries in the hyperfused wounds
  • Stimulation of neovascularization in ischemic tissues
  • Support of leukocytic oxidative bacteria killing as an adjunct to antibiotics and wound care

Frequently Asked Questions

Is High Blood Pressure Oxygen Therapy Safe?

You will be closely monitored by a hyperbaric medicine team who will also work with your physicians to assure your Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is safe and effective. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy usually has limited or no after or side effects. Your hyperbaric medical team physician will discuss possible side effects with you directly.

Is Hyperbaric Oxygen Painful?

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is not painful. During certain parts of the treatment you may feel a plugging in your ears from the pressurization, similar to when you are flying in an airplane or diving to the bottom of a pool of water.

How Many Treatments Will I Need?

The number of treatments administered will depend on your specific condition. Your hyperbaric oxygen team of specialists will discuss your treatment course before you begin therapy. Some conditions may require as many as 20-40 treatments. The treatment course depends on your body's response to Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy.

How Long Do Treatments Last?

Hyperbaric Oxygen treatments typically last 90-120 minutes and are administered 1-2 times daily, 5-6 days a week.

Is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Reimbursable by my Insurance?

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is reimbursable by Medicare and most other third party payors for certain accepted conditions. Pre-authorization, in most cases, must be obtained prior to initiation to therapy.

What Should I Wear?

Clothing is provided for your treatment. You will be given 100 percent cotton garments to wear during therapy. A storage area will be available for your personal items, but you may wish to leave your valuables at home.

Things to Know

Before starting your therapy, please review the following:

  • All medications should be brought with you on your first visit.
  • Cosmetics should be avoided as they are often made with petroleum that could pose a potential hazard in hyperbaric therapy.
  • Clothing of 100 percent cotton will be provided for you to wear while in the hyperbaric chamber.
  • All jewelry, hearing aids, and prostheses need to be removed. Daily bathing and frequent hair washing are recommended.
  • Avoid all hairspray and nail polish.
  • Do not smoke for at least two hours before or after treatment. Smoking causes blood vessels to shrink and should be avoided during the course of treatment.
  • Hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatments are administered daily and require patients to be present for approximately two and a half hours each day. The course of treatments varies by the diagnosis but usually consists of 20-30 treatments.
  • You will be seen and evaluated by our staff before and after your therapy.
  • Do not drink any alcohol prior to treatment.
  • Eat a regular meal before treatment (this is especially important for diabetic patients).
  • If your doctor has prescribed any medications for you, take them as usual (including pain medication) before you arrive and inform our staff during your evaluation.
  • If you have a cold or any sinus congestion, please inform our staff upon arrival, as this may determine whether nasal sprays and decongestants are administered.