Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

What is HBOT?

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is a safe, cost effective, noninvasive process of delivering pure oxygen to a patient under a higher atmospheric pressure in order to improve or correct conditions. By providing pure oxygen in a pressurized chamber, HBOT delivers 10-15 times more oxygen to tissues within the body. This increase in oxygen supply allows for the following:

  • Improved rate of healing
  • Decreases swelling and inflammation
  • Increases the body’s ability to fight infection
  • Promotes new blood vessel growth
  • Deactivates Toxins
  • Helps remove toxins and metabolic waste

How does Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Work?

Oxygen is one of the most basic and essential elements required to sustain human life. It is also one of the most powerful and useful agents available to modern medicine today. Your body’s tissues need an adequate supply of oxygen to function. When tissue is traumatized by injury, infection, or blockage in blood supply, tissue death can occur. Hyperbaric oxygen works by increasing the amount of oxygen inhaled in an environment under increased pressure resulting in high concentrations of oxygen being forced deep into the tissues.

Not All Hyperbaric Chambers Are Created Equal

Hard Vs Soft

There are two different types of hyperbaric chambers, hard and soft. A soft chamber would be described as having a “soft” or movable covering. You would be able to climb into it and zip the “soft” chamber up. This type of soft chamber can only provide up to 1ATA (atmosphere of pressure), and can only bring you 21% oxygen, almost equivocal to the air you already breathe. A hard chamber, which is what we use at OIDWC, provides you 100% medical grade oxygen. This can only be obtained by a written order from a physician and under the continuous supervision of a hyperbaric certified provider. Such a treatment could not be done at home. Hard chambers are made of a large, clear acrylic tube. You would require to be placed on a stretcher and the stretcher gurney is slid into the tube. With this 100% medical grade oxygen, and pressure increased to 2ATA – 2.5ATA (atmospheres of pressure) your body is truly able to kickstart healing processes.

The Best Around

At Ocala Wound Care and Infectious Disease, we believe in providing the most effective care possible. That’s why we have the best hyperbaric chamber in the county. The Sigma 40 Monoplace Hyperbaric Chamber is the largest in the industry, which makes it far more comfortable for all patients, including the elderly and those with claustrophobia. The large chamber size also allows patients to sit up during their treatments while in smaller chambers you must remain lying down throughout the treatment. The acrylic tubing manufactured by Perry Baromedical is one of the best around. It does not give off the “fish eye” feeling that other chambers do. With the only hard hyperbaric chamber in the county, we are prepared to assist you with the healing process.

 Will My Insurance Cover My Treatment?

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy works to treat a wide range of conditions. With continued research, new applications for HBOT continue to be discovered. Based on insurance coverage, below is a list of commonly approved conditions:

  • Diabetic Wounds
  • Radiation Tissue Damage
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Amputation, Skin Graft, or Flap Site Which Has Failed To Heal Properly
  • Necrotizing Soft Tissue Infections
  • Gas Gangrene (Clostridium Infections)
  • Acute Traumatic Injuries / Crush Injuries
  • Severe Anemia
  • Thermal Burns
  • Actinomycosis
  • Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
  • Decompression Illness
  • Cyanide Poisoning
  • Air Or Gas Embolism
  • Smoke Inhalation
  • Crush injuries and suturing of severed limbs (limb reattachment)
  • Progressive necrotizing infections (necrotizing fasciitis)
  • Sudden onset in loss of circulation in a limb (Acute peripheral arterial insufficiency)
  • Swelling or infection in the brain (Cerebral edema, Brain abscess)
  • Infections caused by oxygen-hating bacteria like Clostridia or Actinomyces
  • Blockage of the retinal artery (blood vessel in the back of the eye)
  • Healing of problem wounds

 How Do I Know if HBOT will Benefit Me?

Most of the time, HBOT is used in conjunction with other treatment modalities, especially in cases where conventional standards of care have failed. For example, a patient with a wound on the foot which does not heal after attempts of good wound care, proper nutrition, correct shoes, and even antibiotics may benefit from oxygen therapy as the decrease in oxygen to the wound may be why the wound is still not healing. Our doctors and nurse practitioners will work with you and your referring doctor to design the best plan of care possible and ensure HBOT is right for you.

Off-Label Uses for HBOT

At Ocala Infectious Disease and Wound Center, we will also use HBOT for off-label uses under a doctor’s medical order and supervision. What is an off-label use? An off-label use of HBOT is a medical condition that has not been cleared by the FDA for use in hyperbaric oxygen therapy. These examples include medical conditions like Lyme disease, autism, traumatic brain injuries, sports injuries, muscle recovery after sports, and more. Non-FDA approved uses are not covered by insurance companies, which means that patients privately pay for their hyperbaric treatments.

The International Hyperbaric Medical Association supports the use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for any indication where a physician finds that the condition is related to an event caused by lack of oxygen or any other condition where the process of the disease would be improved by the use of increased oxygenation. Again, based upon your medical history our providers can evaluate whether hyperbaric oxygen therapy may be beneficial in your situation.

Risks related to the treatment

  • Pressure-related trauma to your eardrum
  • Temporary nearsightedness (20% of patients reported)
  • Non-life-threatening convulsions related to oxygen toxicity
  • Post-treatment fatigue

About Insurance

We accept most insurance plans at our center. Prior to treatment, insurance pre-certification will be obtained. HBOT is a treatment which must be prescribed by a physician for a specific condition.

What to Expect

  • The hyperbaric technician will take your vital signs, listen to your lungs and check your eardrums. If you are a diabetic your blood sugar will be checked as well.
  • Once your vitals are assessed and you are cleared to “Dive”, you will go to the changing room and remove ALL clothing and put on our 100% cotton gown. You will also remove all jewelry, dentures, or hearing aids and lock personal effects in your provided locker.
  • The treatment is not painful. As the chamber begins to pressurize, you may feel some discomfort in your ears (much like what you feel in an airplane as it takes off or on a drive up into the mountains). A gentle “hiss” of the incoming oxygen will be heard. You will also feel a slight warming. The technician will instruct you in proper equalization techniques.
  • Once you’re at treatment pressure, you will remain there for the prescribed period of time ordered by your physician.
  • The chamber’s hull is made of clear acrylic, allowing you to see the chamber room and TV.
  • At the end of the treatment, the technician will inform you that it is time to decompress or “come up.” As the chamber starts to ascend you will feel the pressure on your ears start to decrease and the temperature in the chamber will cool slightly.

How Many Treatments Will I Need?

  • One HBOT treatment lasts between 90 minutes and two hours from start to finish.
  • Emergency conditions are generally treated with 1 to 10 treatments during the first week
  • Long-standing infections and other wounds may need 20 to 60 HBOT treatments over the course of several weeks
  • Patients receive one treatment daily, five days a week (weekdays) until the course of treatments is completed.

Do’s and Don’ts of Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment

Continuous supervision and monitoring are provided during the treatment. Our skilled staff of physicians, nurses and hyperbaric technicians have all undergone National Board of Diving and Hyperbaric Medical Technology training.

For your comfort and safety, please:

  • Provide a complete list of all your current medications, including those which are available without a prescription.
  • Notify the nurse if you have symptoms of a cold or flu. Often it’s best to delay treatment until these symptoms subside.
  • Do not bring metal into the chamber (internal metal like pacemakers, joint replacements, etc. are safe).
  • Do not use oil or alcohol-based grooming products before treatment.
  • Do not use hairspray, makeup, perfume and aftershave before treatment.
  • Do not bring flammable substances. Oxygen is highly flammable. No cigarettes, matches, cigarette lighters or other flammable substances may be brought inside the chamber.
  • Remove dentures, partial plates, all jewelry, and other personal items.
  • Do not use any tobacco products during your course of treatment.
    • Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is not effective in smokers and can even be counter-productive because of the side effects of nicotine.
  • Do not bring any valuable items with you.
    • Although lockers are available for clothing and other items, we recommend that you leave valuables at home.

Read Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy FAQs