What Is Hyperbaric?
There are two components to HBO therapy: oxygen and pressure. Different pressures are used for different conditions. For example, three atmospheres absolute is used for cases of gas gangrene and carbon monoxide poisoning, whereas 2.5 atmosphere absolute is used for osteo-myelitis and wound healing. Pressures used for decompression sickness and cerebral air embolism may on occasion run as high as 8 atmospheres absolute. Patients must be able to equalize body spaces such as the ears, sinuses and lung cavities. Contradictors for HBO are: pneumothorax, obstructed bowel, severe claustrophobia. Oxygen as a drug has both toxicity and varying dosage for individual conditions.
Who Needs It?
The term hyperbaric medicine encompasses more than the high pressure treatment given for S.C.U.B.A. diving injuries. While the value of hyperbaric treatment in Decompression Sickness and Air Embolism is well established, there are other medical and surgical diseases which respond quite well to this therapy. As research in hyperbaric medicine continues, more and more indications for hyperbaric therapy will be discovered.
HBO is the therapy of choice for:
Decompression sickness, Air embolism, Carbon monoxide poisoning, Cyanide poisoning
HBO improves outcome as an adjunctive therapy but is not the only or primary form of therapy in these cases:
Gas gangrene, Burns Osteoradionecrosis of bone, Ischemic ulcers, Marginal skin flaps, Certain types of CVA, Non-union of fractures, Severe infections other than clostridia