Breathing 100 percent oxygen at increased atmospheric pressure is a painless, proven way to help your body heal. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) surrounds you with pure oxygen at higher-than-normal atmospheric pressure in sessions that last around two hours. The increase in pressure leads to a rise in oxygen levels in the blood and tissue. This process helps heal your wounds from the inside out.
HBOT chambers resemble a reclining bed encased in a clear acrylic shell big enough to allow you to reposition yourself while in treatment. We have TVs with DVD players above our chambers to provide you with entertainment while remaining in constant contact with those outside the chamber through an intercom and private handset.
The only physical sensation you feel in treatment is slight pressure on the eardrum, similar to flying on a plane, as the oxygen in the chamber is compressed.
Indications for Treatment May Include:
- Chronic or recurrent bone infections
- Compromised or failing skin or muscle flaps and grafts
- Diabetic ulcers on the leg and feet
- Late effects of radiation on soft tissue or bone
Why HBOT is the Key to Healing
Your body needs oxygen to help heal damaged tissue. HBOT helps fight this damage by increasing the amount of oxygen within the tissues, which aids in recovery.
There are many benefits to HBOT:
- Boosts immune system
- Blocks harmful bacteria
- Encourages collagen production
- Helps grow new blood vessels
- Increases oxygen in the blood
- Speeds up repair of skin cells
Hyperbaric oxygen, like any therapy, does not guarantee complete effectiveness. However, studies have shown that it assists in managing and healing wounds. Please consult with our providers at the Wound Healing Center to receive a comprehensive treatment plan to heal your wound.
Treating Radiation Injuries
Hyperbaric medicine has emerged as a promising treatment option for individuals suffering from radiation injuries. Whether the damage results from radiation therapy or surgical procedures, the lack of oxygen in the body’s tissues can delay the healing process. This is where HBOT comes into play.
Research has shown that HBOT can significantly improve the management and healing of radiation injuries. While it may not guarantee a complete resolution in all cases, it has proven effective in 75 percent of patients experiencing radiation injury symptoms. This is a remarkable success rate, considering the limited treatment options for such injuries.
What Is the Incidence of Radiation Injury?
Each year, more than 1.5 million new cases of cancer are diagnosed in the United States. Of these, approximately one-half will receive radiation therapy, and about one-half of this group will become long-term survivors. Unfortunately, 5-10 percent of long-term survivors will develop complications related to radiation treatment.
What is Radiation Injury?
While radiation therapy is an effective weapon in the fight against cancer, occasionally, healthy tissue may become injured in the process, and some patients will experience radiation injury, also known as soft tissue radionecrosis (STRN) or osteoradionecrosis (ORN). Risk factors such as infection, diabetes mellitus or steroid use can play a role in the development of symptoms.
In addition, the size and location of the original tumor can also be a factor. Although any tissue may be affected, STRN and ORN are most commonly found in the head, neck, chest, breast, abdominal and pelvic areas.
What Are the Symptoms of Osteoradionecrosis (ORN)?
Individuals who undergo radiation treatment for head and neck cancers are at an increased risk of ORN. ORN is delayed bone damage most commonly found in the jawbone. Sores in the mouth that don’t heal or dental X-rays may indicate the presence of it.
What Are the Symptoms of Soft Tissue Radionecrosis (STRN)?
Individuals who are treated with radiation for cancer in different areas may experience other symptoms of STRN, such as:
- Head or neck: chronic dry mouth, hoarseness, sore throat, pain, weight loss, difficulty swallowing, difficulty breathing or upper airway obstruction.
- Pelvic area or abdominal region: blood in the urine, rectal bleeding, chronic diarrhea, pain, vaginal discharge and loss of bladder control.
- Chest or breast area: pain in the radiation site and a surgical site that becomes infected, won’t heal or heals for a while, and then re-opens.