Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a type of treatment in which patients enter a chamber and in that chamber they are kept at a higher than normal pressure and they are allowed to breathe pure oxygen. This results in a much higher than normal oxygen concentration in their blood, and that increased oxygen gets out to their tissues. Poor wound healing often results from an inadequate blood flow and inadequate oxygen delivery to the tissues, and hyperbaric oxygen can not only provide oxygen directly, but it can actually stimulate the growth of new blood vessels into the area — and in both these ways it can help wound healing.
There are many indications for hyperbaric oxygen therapy. In our wound healing centers we would typically see patients who have diabetic foot wounds. These wounds can often be poor in blood supply and respond to hyperbaric oxygen therapy. We would also see patients who have deep-seated infections, especially infections of the bone, which can sometimes be called osteomyelitis. This is another condition that can be very helpfully treated with hyperbaric oxygen therapy. And we would also see patients who have had radiation therapy for various types of cancer treatments. Patients who have had radiation can oftentimes develop wounds and symptoms from the radiation therapy. This can include things such as pain and bleeding, because these wounds may even be internal and not visible externally, but still, hyperbaric oxygen can help these patients.
At UPMC we engage in the care of these patients with a very experienced and diverse team of practitioners from multiple disciplines. These can include surgical disciplines such as plastic surgery, general surgery, vascular surgery, and podiatry. We can also include practitioners from medical disciplines such as infectious disease, internal medicine, and other disciplines. Whatever the condition requires, the appropriate expertise is brought to bear on the subject so that the patient can get the benefit of the best possible opinion.
It’s important that hyperbaric oxygen therapy be accessible to patients because patients do need to make repeated visits over a planned period of time. Luckily UPMC has established hyperbaric oxygen centers both in and around Pittsburgh and at other locations in western Pennsylvania.
For more information, please call a UPMC Wound Healing Services location offering hyperbaric oxygen therapy:UPMC McKeesport: 412-664-2400