About the Expert
Dr. Ramirez is dual-board certified in family medicine and wound care with international training in hyperbaric medicine and wound care. He has given lectures and authored research papers on wound care and hyperbaric treatment. Dr. Ramirez is a member of Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society, Association for the Advancement of Wound Care, American Medical Association, and Texas Medical Association.
What is hyperbaric oxygen therapy?
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) provides high doses of oxygen to your bloodstream and ultimately to your wound in an effort to support your body’s own tissue repair activities. HBOT helps the body’s oxygen-dependent, wound-healing mechanisms function more efficiently. While enclosed in a clear, large chamber, patients breathe pure oxygen, saturating their blood plasma and allowing it to carry from 15 to 20 times the normal amount of oxygen to the body’s tissues.
How does hyperbaric oxygen help heal a wound?
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy helps the body’s oxygen-dependent, wound-healing functions work more efficiently while stimulating growth factor production and release, which serves as a stimulus to healing. Another effect of HBOT is vasoconstriction, which reduces post-traumatic edema. In effect, HBOT maintains oxygen delivery while blood flow is improved in the microcirculation by the edema-reducing effect of vasoconstriction.
Am I a good candidate for hyperbaric oxygen therapy?
HBOT is a good option for patients suffering from chronic, non-healing wounds. Current scientific studies support the role of HBOT for individuals with wounds that haven’t responded to comprehensive standard wound care. However, HBOT is covered by insurance only for certain conditions. Patients must meet clinical eligibility criteria to be covered by Medicare and other payors. Some common indications for HBOT are acute carbon monoxide intoxication, gas gangrene, acute traumatic peripheral ischemia, crush injuries, progressive necrotizing infections (necrotizing fasciitis), acute peripheral arterial insufficiency, preparation and preservation of compromised skin grafts, chronic refractory osteomyelitis that’s not responded to conventional medical and surgical management, osteoradionecrosis as an adjunct to conventional treatment, cyanide poisoning, actinomycosis, and diabetic wounds of the lower extremities.
What should I expect when visiting a center for wound healing?
We’ll examine you and gather personal and family medical history, so we can tailor your plan of care. We’ll examine your wound and might remove dead tissue in and around the wound. We’ll teach you to care for your wound at home and schedule further testing if needed.
Are there any risks with this type of therapy?
Pressured Oxygen is a drug. As with any drug, there are slight risks. There is a very small risk HBOT may cause some short-term vision changes while receiving treatments. This will return to normal after you have completed your hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatment regimen, so there is no need to adjust your glasses or contacts. In order to maximize oxygen delivery to your wound, the pressure in the chamber is increased which will provide a sensation of fullness in the ears, like riding in an airplane. Your hyperbaric technician will instruct you on the proper way to handle this mild pressure change. Should a complication arise during HBOT treatment, it is important you have an experienced provider there to help adjust your oxygen dosing. With oversight from an experienced provider and close monitoring there should be no residual effects and you should be able to resume hyperbaric oxygen therapy with a slight adjustment to your treatment regimen should a complication arise.