Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) | Allen Hospital, Waterloo IA

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Wounds need oxygen to heal properly and, for most people, this is a natural process. For some, however, hyperbaric oxygen therapy from Allen Hospital's Wound & Hyperbaric Center is needed to heal problem wounds that have not responded to previous treatment.

What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is a non-invasive, painless treatment in which the patient breathes 100 percent oxygen inside a pressurized chamber for short periods of time.

HBOT is administered in hyperbaric chambers with pressurized oxygen up to three atmospheres, similar to the pressure experienced by a scuba diver at 66 feet below the surface of the water. However, the pressure felt by the patient resembles the changes felt by passengers in an airplane rather than the pressure felt by divers.

While inside the chamber, patients breathe pure oxygen, which saturates the plasma in their blood. This helps the body's oxygen-dependent, wound-healing mechanisms to function more efficiently. When the body is exposed to pressurized oxygen over a prescribed period, new blood vessels grow and replace damaged blood vessels. The restored blood flow aids healing.

Are the chambers comfortable?

Our hyperbaric oxygen chambers are clear, see-through chambers that allow patients to sit up or lie down while sleeping, watching TV or chatting with staff.

How long does a treatment take?

The length of treatment is dependent on the diagnosis. Typical treatments will last two hours and are given once or twice daily, Monday-Friday, for as little as a few days or up to several weeks.

Wounds Treated by HBOT

  • Acute carbon monoxide intoxication
  • Cyanide poisoning
  • Decompression illness (BENDS)
  • Gas embolism
  • Gas gangrene
  • Surgical wounds
  • Burns
  • Severe anemia
  • Acute traumatic peripheral ischemia — as an additional treatment to be used in combination with accepted standard therapeutic measures when loss of function, limb, or life is threatened
  • Crush injuries and suturing of severed limbs — as an additional treatment to be used in combination with accepted standard therapeutic measures when loss of function, limb, or life is threatened
  • Progressive necrotizing infection (necrotizing fasciitis)
  • Acute peripheral arterial insufficiency
  • Preparation and preservation of compromised skin grafts (not for primary management of wounds or for application of bioengineered tissue grafts)
  • Chronic refractory osteomyelitis — when not responding to conventional medical and surgical management
  • Osteoradionecrosis — as an addition to conventional treatment for the treatment of established disease, not prevention
  • Soft tissue radionecrosis — as an addition to conventional treatment
  • Actinomycosis — when not responding to standard therapy
  • Diabetic wounds of the lower extremities in patients who meet 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 has failed an adequate course of standard wound therapy and shows little progress in healing.
  • Other hard to heal wounds

Benefits of HBOT

  • Increases oxygen flow to oxygen-starved areas of the body
  • Stimulates cell growth, regeneration and wound healing
  • Decreases risk of amputation in the case of diabetic leg or foot wounds
  • Increases neural brain function
  • Stimulates small blood vessels
  • Promotes new skin growth
  • Helps fight infection and prevents future problems from occurring

Items not allowed in the chamber:

Patients are advised to not wear the following items during treatment. The Center will provide the appropriate clothing to wear during the treatment.

  • Make-up, wigs/hair pieces
  • Nail polish that has been on less than 24 hours
  • Contact lenses
  • Deodorants, lotions, perfume, aftershave
  • Jewelry
  • Hair spray/oils
  • Loose dentures, gum, candy