Jefferson Health

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)

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If you have chronic diabetes or a wound that will not heal, you may benefit from hyperbaric oxygen therapy, also called HBOT. During this type of treatment, you breathe 100 percent oxygen while under pressure in a hyperbaric chamber. At Jefferson, our Hyperbaric Unit consists of two chambers, operated by our hyperbaric medicine physician and hyperbaric technologist DMT (diver medical technician) who strive to provide comprehensive wound management.

If you have any of the following conditions, you may benefit from HBOT:

  • Diabetes and a wound that is slow to heal or is not healing
  • Damaged tissue from radiation therapy
  • Skin graft that has a questionable blood supply
  • Certain infections of the bone and/or skin
  • Wound that has shown no improvement in four weeks

What is the Purpose of Breathing Oxygen Under Pressure?

Breathing 100 percent oxygen under pressure dissolves more oxygen in your body's blood, which is then delivered to those areas that are having trouble healing due to the lack of oxygen in the surrounding tissues.

Will I Feel Anything During HBOT Treatment? Are There Side Effects?

The only sensation you will experience is during the beginning (compression) phase of treatment. The slowly increasing pressure will push on your eardrum. This is exactly the same feeling you would experience when landing in an airplane or diving to the bottom of a swimming pool. Our staff will instruct you on the different methods of relieving this ear pressure.

HBOT is a noninvasive procedure. Side effects vary depending on pre-existing conditions. Your hyperbaric physician will talk to you about your situation before treatment begins.

How Long Does an HBOT Treatment Last?

An average treatment lasts approximately two hours. Typically, 30 treatments are given within a one- to five-month period. Most people do not experience claustrophobia while inside the chamber. You will be able to see out in all directions and there is always an attendant in the room during your treatment.

How Should I Prepare for My HBOT Treatments?

HBOT is very safe as long as all the precautions are followed. Here are some things to consider:

  • Please do not drink any soft drinks or eat any gas-producing foods 2 hours prior to your treatment. The carbonation and/or gas produced by some foods can cause stomach or bowel distress.
  • Street clothes and shoes are not allowed in the chamber. Cotton clothing will be provided to you; lockers and changing rooms are available.
  • Please leave all rings, watches, earrings, necklaces and large amounts of cash at home. If you forget and bring any of these items, please leave them with a family member or friend.
  • It is extremely important that you do not use tobacco products during your course of HBOT. The nicotine and carbon monoxide in tobacco products diminish the process of healing and reduce the effectiveness of the treatment.

If I Have Diabetes, Will I Experience a Drop in My Blood Sugar During HBOT?

Diabetic patients may experience a drop in blood sugar level during the HBOT treatment. Our staff will check your glucose level before and after each treatment. Be sure to continue with any prescribed diet and medications as it is essential in order to maintain optimal wound healing.

Can I Bring Loved Ones for Support?

Family members, significant others and/or friends are encouraged and welcome to participate in the initial orientation process. After the initial evaluation is completed, it is recommended that only one family member, significant other or friend accompany you during treatment.