UnityPoint Health - Des Moines

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a mode of therapy where the client breathes 100 percent oxygen in an enclosed chamber while the pressure is increased two to three times greater than normal atmospheric pressure.  Arterial oxygen pressure becomes elevated leading to increased oxygen delivery and diffusion of oxygen into the tissues.  

How Does Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Work?

Increasing oxygen delivery to the tissues results in an increase oxygen level in compromised and acute wound; enhancing or stimulating these wounds to heal similar to normal wounds.  Increased oxygen levels stimulate neovascularization (new blood vessel growth), has an antibacterial effect on wounds (helps to kill bacteria), enhances leukocyte (WBC) oxidative killing and reduces ischemic reperfusion injury.  High oxygen concentrations also reverse the effects of tissue hypoxia (low oxygen) caused by carbon monoxide poisoning.

What are the clinical guidelines for Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?

  • Acute Carbon Monoxide Poisoning (CO)
  • Actinomycosis (not responding to standard therapy)
  • Acute Thermal Burns (special consideration), may treat under ATPI or CO poisoning
  • Crush Injuries, or suturing of severed limbs that are compromised
    • Acute Traumatic Peripheral Ischemia (ATPI)
    • Acute peripheral ischemia
  • Compromised Skin Graft/Flaps
  • Diabetic wounds of the lower extremities in patients who meet the following criteria:
    • Patient has type I or type II diabetes and has a lower extremity wound that is due to diabetes
    • Patient has a wound classified as Wagner grade III or higher; and
    • Patient as failed an adequate course of standard wound therapy and shows little progress in healing. 
  • Decompression Sickness (BENDS)
  • Exceptional Blood Loss (acute) 
  • Gas Embolism (‘arterial gas embolism” or AGE)
  • Gas Gangrene (Clostridial)
  • Idiopathic Sudden Sensorineuaral Hearing Loss (ISSHL)
  • Intracranial Abscess (ICA)
  • Necrotizing Soft Tissue Infections (Subcutaneous Tissue, Muscle, Fascia)
  • Refractory Osteomyelitis (chronic) 
  • Soft Tissue Radiation Necrosis (areas that have received radiation, wound present, or are going to have surgery may need hyperbaric pre and post-surgery. 
    • Osteoradionecrosis (Mandible or bone) late effects of radiation

What type of Hyperbaric Chamber does Iowa Methodist have?

Iowa Methodist has two of the largest mono-place chambers in the state of Iowa.  The Perry Sigma Plus chamber which is a clear see through chamber allows the patient to sit up or lie down while sleeping, watching TV, or conversing with staff.  The chamber can accommodate a parent and child if needed.

How long do treatments last?

Most treatments last 90 minutes and are given once or twice daily Monday-Friday depending on the diagnosis and may last a few days to several weeks.

Where is the Hyperbaric Chamber located?

The Hyperbaric Center at Iowa Methodist is located on S-144. 

Referral and Consultation Services

Normal business hours are 7 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Contact us at (515) 241-5093 or fax information to (515) 241-5066.  Nurses and physicians are on call 24 hours/day, 7 days/week for referral and consultation.