What is a non-healing wound and is it common?
A non-healing wound is one that has failed to heal after a period of 30 days. It is estimated that close to 8 million Americans suffer from chronic, non-healing wounds.
How are non-healing wounds treated?
Depending on the wound and what is preventing it from healing, the treatment can vary from the application of special wound healing agents to other medical or surgical intervention that can facilitate healing. For some individuals, Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) may be recommended either as a primary treatment or in conjunction with another treatment depending on their wound or condition.
What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?
The air that we breathe is 21 percent oxygen. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy provides 100 percent oxygen in a pressurized environment which in turn increases the concentration of oxygen in the blood and tissues.
The benefit of HBOT comes from the increased oxygen in the blood and tissues and not from the oxygen’s direct contact with the wound. That is why wound dressings are not necessarily removed during HBOT. Further benefits of HBOT include:
- Enhanced blood vessel formation to improve circulation
- Growth of new tissue which directly enhances wound healing
- Improved infection control
- Reduction or elimination of gas-bubble obstructions
- Elimination and reduction of the effects of toxic substances
How many treatments do I need?
The number of treatments you will need depends on your wound but a treatment session varies from 90-120 minutes, during which time you will lie comfortably in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber breathing the pressurized oxygen. Each chamber is equipped with its own TV and CD/DVD player, so you can choose your own entertainment. Since books are not allowed in the chamber, you may want to bring in a CD of your favorite book to listen to during treatment.
How do you prepare for your visit?
The hyperbaric medicine team will discuss with you the specific preparations needed prior to your treatment. Basically, you should shower prior to your visit and refrain from using any additional hygiene or beauty products until after the treatment. For safety reasons, there are certain items not allowed inside the hyperbaric chamber. The hyperbaric team will provide you with a list of those items.
What can I expect during my hyperbaric oxygen treatment?
When you arrive, you will be given a gown to change into during your treatment. For safety reasons, you will need to wear only the 100 percent cotton garment provided by the hospital. Once inside the chamber, you will be comfortably positioned and the pressure will gradually be increased.
Smoking may impair the treatment.
Tobacco products constrict blood vessels and limit the delivery of oxygen to the tissues. This in turn may decrease the benefit from HBOT. Therefore, you should refrain from smoking prior to receiving treatment.
Are there any possible HBOT side effects?
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy usually has no after effects. Some individuals feel a ‘fullness’ in their ears (similar to the feeling of pressure when flying in an airplane or driving in a mountainous area) as your ears adjust to pressure changes. Your technician will give you tips on how to relieve this pressure before your treatment. Rarely, individuals have experienced temporary vision changes. However, these changes should return to normal a few weeks after the therapy is completed. Because of this, our physicians recommend that individuals receiving treatment do not change their eyewear prescription during the course of therapy. Some patients may also experience fatigue during the treatment phase. This is completely normal. Similar to other medical treatments, HBOT presents some risks although rare. These will be discussed with you prior to beginning therapy.
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