Summit Medical Center - Surgical Treatment Center Oklahoma City OK


Summit Medical Center Blog


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?

What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a treatment that is sometimes used at Summit Medical Center for patients with chronic wounds. A chronic wound is one that doesn't heal normally. Most wounds, given time and proper medical care, will eventually close up, cover over and heal. Scar tissue then forms, protecting the wound as it heals and ultimately allowing many patients to regain normal use of the area. However, in some cases a wound refuses to heal and is then considered a chronic problem.

There are several causes for chronic wounds. One is an infection that has set into the area and inhibits healing. Diseases, such as diabetes and venous disease, can also restrict the body's ability to heal itself. These conditions may also be influenced by nutrition, with certain dietary changes facilitating wound recovery. Also, many chronic wounds are caused by a lack of oxygen flow to the affected tissue, typically due to a lack of circulation. This may be the direct underlying cause or may be associated with infection or disease.

In some cases, especially when circulation and oxygen are an issue, doctors will recommend hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a gentle, safe procedure which can help improve the body's ability to naturally heal a wound. It can be used on its own or in conjunction with other treatments, often antibiotics for infection. 

In hyperbaric oxygen therapy, the patient lies in a hyperbaric chamber—a long, tube-like container in which air pressure can be controlled. The air pressure inside the chamber is slowly increased so that the patient and the wound are in a high pressure (hyperbaric) environment. This increases both the pressure on the tissue around the wound, and the amount of oxygen available to the body. It has several beneficial effects:
  • The higher oxygen availability improves oxygenation of tissue suffering from poor circulation. In other words, if only a small amount of blood can circulate through the area hyperbaric oxygen therapy allows that blood to carry more vital oxygen. 
  • It is antibacterial. The highly oxygenated environment hinders bacteria in the wound area. Ultimately, it enhances the effectiveness of antibiotics.
  • The pressure serves to constrict the blood vessels in the body, decreasing swelling and further bolstering circulation. 
  • It enhances the development of new blood vessels in the area of the wound. 
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is not right for every chronic wound, but it is a powerful tool that doctors can use without relying on drugs or surgery, or in combination with these other treatments. Many patients find that this therapy gets their healing process back on track rapidly. Contact us at Summit Medical Center today and ask if hyperbaric oxygen therapy is right for you!



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