What is a hyperbaric oxygen chamber and how does it help wounds?
The hyperbaric oxygen chamber is a device commonly associated with deep sea diving – a chamber used to decompress divers with decompression sickness or “the bends.” The hyperbaric oxygen chamber delivers 100% oxygen under pressure. For most wound care patients we bring the chamber to a pressure of two atmospheres, the equivalent of a deep sea diver at a depth of 33 feet. This delivers 10 to 20 times the normal amount of oxygen to the body. The increase in oxygen delivered to the tissues stimulates the development of new blood vessels, provides a positive effect on white blood cells to help fight infection, enhances the effect of antibiotics, helps reduce swelling, and stimulates healing by increasing the production of collagen and growth factors in tissues. We have found the oxygen chamber to be especially beneficial for patients with osteomyelitis, a chronic bone infection. A recent study showed that hyperbaric oxygen treatment prevented 1 in 4 amputations that resulted from chronic, non-healing wounds in diabetics.