Treatment Offered At
- Department of Hyperbaric Medicine at Long Beach Medical Center
- Wound Care & Hyperbaric Medicine at Saddleback Medical Center
Providing Therapeutic Treatments with Pure Oxygen
Hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) therapy is a medical treatment that is used to treat a variety of illnesses. During a treatment, 100 percent oxygen is breathed at an increased pressure for a prescribed amount of time.
In order to achieve this increased pressure, the treatment is administered in a pressurized environment (a hyperbaric oxygen chamber). This type of treatment is often used in conjunction with additional therapies to facilitate healing of various underlying medical conditions.
Hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) therapy treatments are effective for a number of different medical and surgical conditions, either as a primary treatment or in addition to antibiotics and surgery. HBO therapy is regularly prescribed for the treatment of non-healing wounds.
Hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) therapy is performed in a hyperbaric chamber. The patient enters the chamber on a gurney, the door is closed and 100 percent oxygen begins to flow into the chamber. The chamber is pressurized gradually over 10 to 15 minutes. The patient breathes the pure oxygen for approximately 90 minutes, depending on the condition being treated. The hyperbaric chamber is equipped with an intercom system that allows the patient to communicate with physicians and staff while in the chamber. The patient can also watch television, listen to the radio or simply relax and sleep during treatment. After the prescribed treatment time, the flow of oxygen is stopped and the chamber is decompressed.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How Does Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Work?
- What Will I Feel During a Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment?
- How Many Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatments Will I Need?
- Is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Reimbursable by My Insurance?
How Does Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Work?
During the treatment, the hyperbaric chamber is pressurized using 100 percent oxygen. As the patient breathes normally, the pressurized oxygen is absorbed into the bloodstream via the lungs and carried throughout the body by the circulatory system. Subsequently, the patient receives up to fifteen times the amount of oxygen when compared to breathing air at sea level. This pressurized oxygen treatment has many therapeutic benefits, including:
- Greatly increasing the oxygen concentration in all body tissues, even with reduced blood flow.
- Improving the healing time of stubborn wounds.
- Stimulating the growth of new blood vessels in areas of reduced circulation.
- Increasing the efficiency of white blood cells to kill bacteria and aiding in infection control.
- Assisting in the treatment of chronic bone infections (osteomyelitis).
- Preserving skin grafts, flaps and other tissues where the circulation is suddenly reduced.
- Reducing swelling (edema).
- Reversing damage to tissues exposed to radiation therapy.
- Reducing effects from toxic exposure from carbon monoxide.
What Will I Feel During a Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment?
The treatment is provided while you lay down on a bed inside the hyperbaric chamber.
Once the treatment starts (compression), you will hear the oxygen begin to circulate in the chamber. You will feel the change in pressure in your ears (similar to the feeling of driving down a mountain road or descending in an airplane). A nurse will coach you during the first few treatments to help you to relieve this “full” sensation in your ears.
When you reach the prescribed pressure, you will no longer need to clear your ears. You may listen to music, watch TV or a movie, rest, or sleep for the remainder of the treatment.
Each treatment lasts about 90 to 120 minutes. Near the end of the treatment, the nurse will gradually decrease the pressure in the chamber (decompression). During decompression, you may experience a “popping” sensation in your ears as a result of the changing pressure. This is a normal adjustment in your ears (similar to the feeling of driving down a mountain road or lowering altitude in an airplane).
How Many Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatments Will I Need?
The number of treatments required varies depending on your medical condition.
Some emergency conditions require only one or two treatments. However, most wound healing problems require between 20 and 30 treatments. These treatments are generally provided twice a day if you are hospitalized. Outpatients are usually treated once a day.
Treatments are offered seven days per week and we have staff available to treat emergencies 24-hours-a-day.
The number of treatments required will be discussed during your consultation with the hyperbaric medicine physician and may be adjusted as your medical condition improves. Repeated evaluations of your medical condition will be performed by your referring physician and the hyperbaric medicine team in order to guide your continued therapy.
Prior authorization is frequently required before starting hyperbaric oxygen treatments. Our qualified staff will assist in obtaining authorization, when needed.