What is hyperbaric oxygen therapy?

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a medical therapy that uses pressurized oxygen to help heal wounds.

How does hyperbaric oxygen therapy work?

Patients breathe 100% oxygen within a chamber, where the entire body is under increased atmospheric pressure. Their blood carries the increased oxygen throughout the body, which promotes healing.

What are the benefits of hyperbaric oxygen therapy?

Therapy promotes wound healing, helps to control infection and forms new blood vessels. Some common conditions treated with this therapy are:

  • Carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Decompression sickness from scuba diving.

It may also be used for:

  • Infections of bones.
  • Diabetic foot wounds.
  • Injury to bone from radiation treatment.
  • Injury to skin or soft tissue from radiation treatment.

How many treatments will I need? How long does a session last?

On average, patients require 30 to 40 treatments. Each session is 90 minutes to 2 hours, administered once a day, 5 days a week.

That sounds like a lot. Why are so many treatments needed?

The number of treatments is based on your medical condition.

Is hyperbaric oxygen therapy covered by insurance?

Medicare, Medicaid and most other insurers cover therapy. Check with your insurer.

Does hyperbaric oxygen therapy hurt?

There’s no pain but you may feel slight sinus or ear pressure, which can be relieved by yawning or swallowing.

What is the chamber like?

The chamber is large enough to lie down comfortably with blankets and pillows. It’s made from see-through acrylic. Patients can listen to music or watch TV during treatment.

I’m claustrophobic. Can I still get treatment?

As many as 10% of people who need hyperbaric oxygen treatment have confinement anxiety. A doctor can prescribe a mild sedative, if needed, and a chamber attendant is always available.

At ChristianaCare, we offer the option of a larger chamber that can accommodate patients up to 7 feet, 5 inches and 700 pounds. We find that patients who are uncomfortable with a standard-size chamber do quite well in the larger chamber.

Learn more about hyperbaric oxygen therapy at ChristianaCare.