The Roper St. Francis Hyperbaric & Undersea Medicine (HBO) department is regulated. The Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society has approved use of hyperbaric oxygen for several other conditions besides the bends. The length and number of treatments depends on the condition and its severity.
There are many conditions for which there is weak or no evidence and are not approved for HBO treatment in the United States, yet some unregulated facilities offer HBO therapy for them. Unless new and surprising evidence is produced, our facility specifically declines to treat autism, cerebral palsy, ADHD, ALS, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and stroke.
Air or Gas Embolism
This is similar to the bends, when air or gas bubbles enter arteries or veins, reducing blood flow and affecting oxygen circulation.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon monoxide (CO), a colorless, odorless gas, is a by-product of combustion. It binds to red blood cells, blocking delivery of oxygen to the body. Hyperbaric oxygen accelerates the clearance of CO from the body, restoring oxygen delivery and preventing toxic effects on the central nervous system and blood vessels.
This bacterial infection eats away soft tissues, releases toxins into the blood stream and inhibits the body's defense mechanisms. These bacteria prefer low-oxygen concentrations. High doses of oxygen via hyperbaric therapy inhibit bacteria and toxin production.
Complications of crush injuries, such as from motor vehicle accidents, falls and gun shots, are very frequent. By increasing oxygen delivery to injured tissues, hyperbaric treatments reduce swelling, improve healing and help fight infection.
Wounds may fail to respond to standard care because of low oxygen levels and impaired circulation. Foot ulcers in diabetics are one such problem. By increasing oxygen levels within the wound tissues, hyperbaric therapy promotes healing.
In cases where a patient can't accept a blood transfusion for medical or religious reasons, sufficient oxygen delivery (via red blood cells) might be compromised. Hyperbaric treatment increases the oxygen content of existing red blood cells.
A sinus infection or bone infection of the skull may form an abscess within the skull or brain. Antibiotics may be ineffective and white blood cells require a minimum oxygen level to kill bacteria. Hyperbaric treatment provides oxygen for white blood cells and inhibits bacteria that need low oxygen levels to grow.
Soft Tissue Infections
These are serious infections -- in which tissue is dying -- that may be complicated by conditions such as diabetes or vascular disease. While primary treatments are removing the infected tissue and administering antibiotics, hyperbaric oxygen may inhibit bacteria from growing and enhance the ability of white blood cells to kill bacteria.
Osteomyelitis, infection of the bone, that does not respond to standard treatment may benefit from hyperbaric oxygen. It inhibits bacterial growth, increases the killing power of white blood cells and enhances the effects of some antibiotics.
Radiation Therapy Complications
Chronic complications of radiation therapy used to treat cancer may result from scarring and narrowing of the blood vessels. Hyperbaric treatment allows more oxygen to reach these damaged areas and helps prevent tissue from dying for lack of blood and oxygen flow. It is most often used in the head and neck areas.
The success of transferred skin grafts or flaps (which might include skin, deeper tissue, muscle and bone) is largely dependent on sufficient oxygen supply to the affected area. Hyperbaric treatment can be used to saturate the area with oxygen before and after grafting.