Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)
Contact Us: (632) 723-0101/0301 ext. 4186
Location: Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Unit
St. Luke’s Medical Center launched its Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) Unit for patients with problematic wounds and those suffering from life-threatening decompression illness.
Many people suffer from wounds that are difficult to treat due to complications of diabetes and other related disorders of the blood vessels. Problematic wounds also include pressure sores (decubitus ulcers) and wounds caused by trauma. Conventional treatment of these wounds can be frustrating and time-consuming for both patient and doctor.
If there’s one thing scuba divers fear most, it is decompression illness, a general term used to describe a dangerous condition that develops after a decrease in the ambient pressure the human body is exposed to. It is usually experienced by scuba divers, but it is not limited to diving in water. Any person exposed to great pressure changes (such as aviators, astronauts and compressed-air workers) may be at risk of decompression illness.
Dr. Menandro Siozon, Head of the HBOT Unit, and specialists Dr. Henry Esguerra and Dr. Martin Ranellus Samson all completed the Hyperbaric Medicine Team Training at NIX Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, USA. Using HBOT, these specialists can speed up wound healing and administer life-saving recompression treatment. St. Luke’s HBOT is the most advanced hyperbaric monoplace system in the country and is the same system used by most hyperbaric consultants in the US.
What is HBOT?
Hyperbaric Oxygen (HBO2) is a treatment in which the patient breathes 100% oxygen inside a pressurized chamber. It is recognized by the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine Society (UHMS), an international organization of 2,500 diving or hyperbaric scientists and physicians from more than 50 countries.
Persistently high blood sugar levels can damage blood vessels, decreasing blood flow to the foot. Poor blood circulation can weaken the skin, contribute to the formation of ulcers (wounds), and impair wound healing. Some bacteria and fungi thrive on high levels of sugar in the bloodstream, causing infections that can break down the skin and complicate skin ulcers. In HBOT, high concentrations of oxygen are rapidly delivered to the patient’s tissues thereby stimulating growth of new blood vessels. This promotes the healing of problematic wounds and helps treat certain types of infections (such as gangrene).
Decompression illness is caused by two different mechanisms: decompression sickness and arterial gas embolism (AGE). Decompression sickness usually results from nitrogen bubbles forming in tissues, causing direct damage to the tissues. If the bubbles form in or near joints, this will cause excruciating joint pains—thus the condition’s popular nickname “the bends.” AGE results from nitrogen bubbles entering the blood vessels and moving with the blood flow, eventually lodging in an artery as the artery narrows and causing tissue damage by blocking blood flow to a region of tissue normally dependent on flow from the artery.
In HBOT, continued administration of pure oxygen helps eliminate nitrogen out of the body. The patient is first re-pressurized to a depth where the bubbles of nitrogen or air are made smaller and the gases re-dissolve into the body tissues and fluids. Then, the patient is instructed to breathe higher concentrations of oxygen, always with short air breaks, which promotes elimination of nitrogen. The patient is slowly brought back to surface atmospheric pressure, allowing gases to diffuse gradually and safely out of the lungs and body.
Approved indications for HBOT
The following are acceptable, evidence-based indications for HBOT:
A safe outpatient procedure
HBOT is usually conducted on an outpatient basis. The number of treatments (“dives”) will depend on the condition being treated. The patient may watch TV or videos, or simply relax and sleep during treatment. Most daily treatments last approximately two hours.
Because patient safety is a top priority at St. Luke’s, the HBOT Unit uses equipment that adheres to stringent international safety standards. Its HBOT equipment meets the requirements specified by National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 99: Health Care Facilities, Chapter 20, Hyperbaric Facilities, ANSI/ASME-PVHO-1: Safety Standard for Pressure Vessels for Human Occupancy, ANSI/ASME-PVHO-2: Safety Standard for Pressure Vessels for Human Occupancy In-Service Guideline for PVHO Acrylic Windows, Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine Society (UHMS), and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (U.S. FDA).