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Home > Medical Services > Healing Center > Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
Breathing 100% oxygen at increased atmospheric pressure is a painless, proven way to help the body heal. Hyperbaric oxygen chambers work by surrounding the patient with 100% oxygen at higher than normal atmospheric pressure in sessions, or dives, that last 90 minutes to two hours. This increases the amount of oxygen in the patient's blood, allowing red blood cells to pass more easily through the plasma into the wounds to heal them from the inside out.
Introduced in the mid-1960s, HBO chambers have evolved to treat patients suffering from diabetic ulcers, pressure ulcers, infections, compromised skin grafts and flaps, and wounds that haven't healed within 30 days. Weighing more than one ton each, the HBO chambers resemble a reclining bed encased in a clear acrylic shell nearly a yard in diameter.
Patients can listen to music or watch movies on televisions and VCR/DVD players mounted above the chamber while remaining in constant contact with those outside the chamber through an intercom and private handset. The only physical sensation resulting from the treatment is a slight pressure on the eardrum, such as that felt when a plane lands, as the air in the chamber is compressed.
Some potential candidates are people with diabetes who have wounds that are slow to heal; people with wounds that haven’t shown improvement in four weeks; people with certain bone and skin infections; people with radiation injuries; and people with compromised or failing skin grafts or flaps.
HBO is a medical treatment that increases the amount of oxygen in the patient’s blood, allowing oxygen to pass more easily though the plasma into the wounds to heal them. HBO chambers surround patients with 100% oxygen at higher than normal atmospheric pressure.
Usually, there is no benefit to increasing the level of oxygen in the body for normal, healthy individuals. People with certain medical conditions do, however, benefit from increased levels of oxygen.
If you have a wound that hasn’t healed in four weeks, consult Mercy’s Wound Healing & Hyperbaric Center (319) 398-6400. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy may be an appropriate part of the treatment plan. A physician at the center will evaluate your wound and determine the best course of treatment.
To protect the privacy of our patients, family members may not remain with you during your treatment. A waiting room is provided for their comfort. A trained technician is always in the room during treatment and can communicate with you at any time.
Mercy’s Wound Healing & Hyperbaric Center will provide you with clothing to wear during your treatment for both comfort and safety. Please do not wear any of the following items when you come to the center for HBO therapy:
If you have a movie you would like to watch during treatment, you are free to bring it with you. Otherwise, you do not need to bring anything. If you have diabetes, make sure you eat before your treatment begins. If your sinuses are congested or you feel ill, let the technician know so we can make you more comfortable.
No; you’ll come to Mercy’s Healing Center for treatment. Your therapy will be supervised by a specially trained physician and monitored by a technician each day.
On average, treatments last about two hours. This includes the time to pressurize and depressurize the chamber, plus 90 minutes at the prescribed treatment depth.
The number of HBO treatments is not pre-set because each person responds differently to the therapy. The average number of treatments required to heal a patient with a problem wound is 20-40.
For most chronic wounds, HBO therapy each weekday is sufficient.
Medicare has approved coverage for HBO therapy for many types of chronic, non-healing wounds. Most private insurance companies follow Medicare’s guidelines. We will review your insurance plan with you before your therapy starts to make sure you know what your costs will be.
No, the only sensation you will experience is during the pressurization phase of the treatment. The slowly increasing pressure will push on your eardrums. This is exactly the same feeling you would experience when landing in an airplane of diving to the bottom of a swimming pool. The hyperbaric staff will instruct you about different methods of reliving the ear pressure.
No, the treatment is very safe. Mercy’s Healing Center has very strict procedures that ensure your safety and make your treatment comfortable. Before your first treatment, you will be given a thorough orientation.
Each chamber is equipped with its own television so that you can watch TV or a movie during your treatment. You may not bring anything in the chamber with you, including books and newspapers. Many patients simply use the time to catch up on some well-deserved rest.
No, however it is possible to take a bedpan or urinal in with you during your treatment. The staff can finish the treatment early, if required.
Interestingly enough, most hyperbaric parents do not suffer from claustrophobia. This could be due to either the large size of the chamber or the fact that it has a clear acrylic shell. From inside the chamber, it is possible to see out in all directions. If you still feel anxious about your treatment, the hyperbaric physician can prescribe medication that will relax you and make your treatment less stressful.
The chamber is equipped with two-way communication. You can talk to the outside technician at any time. The technician can talk to you through the chamber microphone.