Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)
Hyperbaric comes from Greek where “hyper” means more and “baric” relates to pressure. This amounts to “more pressure.” Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) increases the oxygenation of all organs, tissues, and body fluids. It is the pressure of the chamber that enables the oxygen molecules to penetrate compromised tissues three to four times farther than normally diffused by red blood cells.
Simply breathing 100% pure oxygen outside the chamber will NOT significantly increase a patient’s healing capabilities at all. When a patient is in the chamber, the increased pressure causes the blood plasma, and other liquids of the body, to absorb much larger quantities of oxygen, greatly increasing oxygen uptake by the cells, tissues, glands, organs, brain, and all fluids of the body. For example, once inside the pressurized chamber at 2.0 atmospheres, oxygen is being delivered to the patient’s tissues at a rate of 20 times breathing normal air. This oxygen can then be utilized by the body for vital functions related to healing.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy or “HBOT” is most often used as an “adjunctive treatment,” meaning that it is employed in conjunction with other forms of veterinary care and is most often, only a part of the total treatment regime. HBOT treatments utilize 100% pure oxygen, provided at optimal pressures to provide a profound anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and tissue healing effect. It can accelerate healing dramatically and be a great benefit in conditions where there is an oxygen deficit.
The patient is placed into the chamber where 100% pure oxygen flows to a maximum of three times normal atmospheric pressure. They are monitored continuously throughout the procedure for any signs of discomfort or anxiety, and pressures are altered accordingly. Each treatment or “dive” lasts approximately 75 to 90 minutes, with compression times varying from 5 to 20 minutes, actual dive time at therapeutic pressure ranging from 30 to 60 minutes and decompression usually lasting anywhere from 5 to 12 minutes. Most patients are perfectly comfortable inside the chamber and settle down to rest peacefully during their dives, though for some patients, there is a bit of anxiety for the first few minutes.
Conditions for which HBOT has proven useful in our practice:
- Severe skin and tissue damage such as degloving injuries and lacerations
- Skin grafts and flaps
- Non-healing, or non-union fractures and osteomyelitis
- Sepsis and septic shock
- Spinal cord injuries such as IVDD and FCE
- Inflammatory conditions such as pancreatitis, arthritis and dermatitis
- Snake and insect envenomation
- Post-surgical swelling and recovery
- Acute ischemic conditions such as bite or crushing type wounds
- Infectious conditions such as non-healing wounds and antibiotic resistant infections
- Smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning
- Problem wounds such as burns, ulcers, and necrotic tissue
- Soft tissue and osteoradionecrosis
- Gastrointestinal surgeries particularly GDV and foreign body removal
- Traumatic brain injury
- Corneal perforations and problems involving occlusion of the retinal artery