Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBO)

What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBO) is a treatment that increases the amount of oxygen blood cells can carry. It has been used for more than 70 years to improve healing in tissues deprived of oxygen. Studies show it significantly improves healing for some types of chronic wounds.

How Do I Know if HBO is Right for Me?

Ask your doctor to evaluate your wound and consider any coexisting medical conditions affecting your ability to heal. You can also call a Wound Care Center® directly to request an appointment.

How Does HBO Work?

Patients lay inside a clear-sided chamber filled with 100% oxygen that is pressurized to greater than sea-level pressure. The pressure is not uncomfortable or even noticeable for most people after they get used to the feeling. Blood-oxygen levels can increase by nearly three times. When blood carries this extra level of oxygen throughout the body, it helps fight bacteria and stimulate the release of growth factors that promote healing.

What Types of Wounds Are Typically Treated by HBO?

  • Diabetic wounds or foot ulcers grades 3-5
  • Radiation Conditions
    • Osteoradionecrosis (ORN)- bone injury caused by radiation
    • Soft tissue radionecrosis (STRN)- tissue damage caused by radiation
    • Radiation-induced hemorrhagic cystitis (HC)
  • Traumatic/acute crush conditions
  • Progressive necrotizing infection
  • Acute peripheral arterial insufficiency

What To Know If Your Doctor Recommends HBO

Does Insurance Cover HBO?

Medicare has approved coverage for HBO for several types of chronic wounds and other medical conditions. Many private insurance companies follow Medicare rules. We can help you review your plan’s coverage.

How Many Treatments Will I Need?

Your individual plan of care will be based on your wound type, health conditions and healing progress. Most patients receive between 30 and 40 treatments.

How long does a HBO treatment last?

Most treatments last between 90 and 120 minutes. People receiving HBO treatment are typically scheduled every day, Monday – Friday, for five to six weeks. Your doctor will inform of your particular schedule based on your treatment.

What Will I Do During Treatment?

You can take a nap, read or watch TV. When you are in the clear chamber, you are able to see out of the chamber in all directions. If you are anxious, the doctor can prescribe medicine to help you relax.

How To Prepare For Treatment

What Should I Wear To The Wound Care Center®?

For your safety, we will provide clothing to wear while you are in the HBO chamber.
Please DO NOT wear any of the following:

  • Makeup
  • Battery-operated medical devices
  • Nail polish (polish that has been on less than 24 hours is okay)
  • Perfume, cologne or aftershave
  • Jewelry (including watches and earrings)
  • Wigs or hairpieces
  • Deodorants
  • Contact lenses
  • Skin lotions
  • Hairsprays or oils

Additionally, you cannot have anything in your mouth during treatment, such as gum, loose-fitting dentures or candy.

What Should I Tell My Doctor and HBO Technician?

Be sure to tell your doctor and HBO technician about the following medical conditions:

  • Battery-Operated Medical Device

If you have an internal battery-operated medical device such as a pacemaker or pain pump, the staff will check to make sure your device can be used in the chamber.

If you have an external battery-operated medical device, it cannot go into the chamber. Your HBO
physician will contact your doctor for instructions on how to deal with this device.

  • Diabetes

Your doctor will discuss blood sugar control with you. The HBO technician will check your blood sugar before and after treatment. Take your medicine as prescribed. Eat before HBO.

  • Chemotherapy

Tell your wound care physician if you are currently being treated with chemotherapy or have previously received treatment.

What Should I Expect When I Arrive for Treatment?

Prior to HBO you will change into a plain cotton gown and your vital signs will be checked. If you have diabetes, your blood sugar will also be checked. Please let the staff know if you are in any pain or feel sick or congested.

For more information about HBO, visit our Wound Science Initiative webpage to download our recent white paper about HBO.

If you or a loved are a good candidate for hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBO), the first step is to find a Wound Care Center near you.

Read a white paper on how hyperbaric oxygen (HBO therapy) is used as a lever for reducing unwarranted clinical variability.

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