Patient Guide

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a treatment where you breathe 100 percent oxygen while inside a pressurized full-body chamber. Many wounds do not heal because they are not getting enough oxygen from your blood to the tissues around the wound. The pressure in the chamber helps your body deliver high concentrations of oxygen to your bloodstream helping the healing process for non-healing wounds. It can help to fight certain kinds of infection and stimulate the growth of new blood vessels to improve circulation. This sometimes helps prevent wounds from coming back.

Contraindications or Precautions:

  • History of spontaneous pneumothorax
  • Pneumothorax
  • Prior chemotherapy
  • Congestive Heart Failure (uncompensated)
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
  • Seizure Disorder
  • Emphysema
  • Sickle Cell Anemia
  • Reconstructive Ear Surgery
  • Optic neuritis
  • Upper respiratory infection

What to Expect?

You should arrive for your treatment 30 minutes before your appointment time to allow time for changing clothes. If you are diabetic, please make sure you have eaten a meal or snack before your appointment and taken medications as directed for your diabetes. Your blood sugar will be tested before and after each treatment.

When you arrive for your first oxygen treatment, you will receive instructions from the hyperbaric technician to change into a hospital gown made of 100% cotton. For safety reasons, no other clothing may be worn inside the hyperbaric oxygen chamber. In an oxygen rich environment, all precautions are taken to reduce the risk of a fire in the hyperbaricchamber. Therefore, the following items may not be worn or carried into the chamber:

  • Makeup
  • Perfume
  • Aftershave
  • Hairspray or hair oils
  • Wigs or hairpieces
  • Nail polish
  • Alcohol or petroleum based products
  • Cell phones or pagers
  • Metallic items (jewelry, titanium frame eyeglasses, keys, watches, coins, etc.)
  • Flammable materials or heat producing items (heating pad, lighters, cigarettes)
  • Hearing aids
  • Food, gum or candy
  • Implantable devices

A nurse will listen to your lungs and vital signs will be taken before each treatment. A doctor will be present in the Center also helping to monitor all wound and hyperbaric patients.

You will be positioned comfortably inside the see-through chamber and the door closed. The pressure inside the chamber will slowly increase and the temperature will get warm. You may experience fullness or popping in your ears like if you were in the mountains or on an airplane. You will be taught ways to clear your ears while the pressure is increasing. Do not hold your breath. The pressure will continue to increase until you are at the desired level (2 ATA). The treatment session will last 90 minutes to 2 hours. While in the chamber, you may sleep, watch TV or simply relax. The hyperbaric technician will be observing your treatment and able to talk with you using a built-in communication phone.

At the end of your treatment, the chamber pressure will decrease and the temperature will be cool. It is very important that you let your ears clear and pop on there own and that you do not hold your breath at any time.

Patients will be seen daily Monday-Friday at a given appointment for 10-30 visits as directed by the physician. It is very important that you make every visit for this treatment to be effective. If you are unable to make your appointment, you need to call the Wound Center at least 1 hour before your treatment.

Inform the staff at the Center if you have a cold or cough, the flu, sore throat, chills, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. You should also inform them of any medications you are taking or changes in medication during your course of treatment.

When to Call the Doctor

Possible side effects:

  • Your ears may continue to feel full even after treatment.
  • Arterial gas embolism
  • Mediastinal emphysema
  • Pneumothorax
  • Subcutaneous emphysema
  • Seizures due to oxygen toxicity
  • Blurred vision (do not change your eye-wear prescription while being treated)
  • Fatigue
  • Claustrophobia