Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is a treatment, in which a patient breathes 100% pure oxygen intermittently while inside a treatment chamber at a pressure higher than sea level pressure. It can be viewed as the new application of an old, established technology to help resolve certain recalcitrant, expensive, or otherwise hopeless medical problems. In certain circumstances, it represents the primary treatment modality while in others it is an adjunct to surgical or pharmacologic interventions.
Resources and Articles
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy uses increased pressure in a hyperbaric chamber to dissolve extra oxygen into the plasma of the blood. Using the plasma to transport additional oxygen reduces swelling, helps to fight infection, grows new blood vessel, stimulates bone and cell growth, and drastically increases healing time. Using the additional pressure, extra oxygen is also dissolved into other fluids in the body as well as all the tissues.
There are lots of conditions that hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been proven to help. Each insurance company decides what’s covered and whats not, however HBOT is covered by Medicare, Kaiser, Aetna, United Health Care and may others. Coverage is based on diagnosis. Call us! We are more than happy to look at your personal situation and do the work for you.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is a painless, noninvasive therapy. Our patients often tell us they don’t notice the pressure change. The feeling is similar to a drive over the mountains, or being in a plane. “Popping” of the ears is normal, and generally the ears are the only part of the body sensitive enough to notice the pressure change.
Although there are minor risks like all medical treatments, overall hyperbaric oxygen therapy is extremely safe. These minor risks will be discussed with you prior to your first treatment. Bay Area Hyperbarics has an outstanding safety record and employees nurses and technicians with impeccable credentials.
Patients are accepted either by referring themselves, or by a physician’s referral. Patients are evaluated by our staff and treated based on their specific needs. Call us! There is never a charge to talk with one of our nurses. We will help you get started.
We make it easy for you! Before your first treatment, we take the time to answer all of your questions in detail. Preparing for HBOT is just as individualized as the therapy. In most cases, it’s as easy as changing into the clothing we provide you. Call us with any questions! We are more than happy to answer all of your questions, even if you are not a current patient.
Each condition generally requires it own unique treatment schedule. It’s not uncommon for us the see our patents everyday. Therapy schedules and protocols are decided by your referring physician or our Medical Director.
Common conditions we treat
While radiation treatments are designed to target only the cancer cells, healthy tissues surrounding the treatment area are often affected. Radiation unfortunately can damage blood vessels in the adjacent tissues producing a condition called obliterating endarteritis, or inflammation of the inner lining of the blood vessels. These blood vessels become occluded and hardened and gradually cause the area to become hypoxic, hypovascular, and hypocellular.
When an injury occurs in the irradiated area, whether by a trauma, surgical procedure, or infection, the tissue’s ability to repair itself is compromised. Any tissue that has been exposed to radiation may be at risk for future problems.
ORN is a complication that may develop in patients that have radiation treatment for head and neck cancers. ORN may occur after trauma to the mandible, as in tooth extractions, periodontal procedures, or cancer surgeries, but it may also occur unexpectedly. Patients may experience pain, swelling, trismus, bone exposure, malocclusion, and oral cutaneous fistulas.
HBOT can be used in patients at risk for ORN prior to planned tooth extractions to help prevent ORN. For patients with existing ORN, HBOT may help repair the damage to the mandible (jaw) from the radiation by delivering 100% oxygen and stimulating angiogenesis in the affected area.
A condition that may cause pain, incontinence, and bleeding in the urinary bladder. Radiation of the bladder is one cause for this painful condition. HBOT allows more oxygen to reach these damaged tissues and stimulate new blood vessel growth which enhances the body’s own ability to heal itself.
Radiation proctitis or enteritis is another condition that may result from radiation treatment. Radiation proctitis occurs in the rectum and radiation enteritis occurs in the intestines.
Patients with diabetes often have poor circulation which prevents the body from providing the necessary oxygen and nutrients from reaching lower extremities. This reduction in circulation also prevents the body’s immune system from responding to an injury to the skin and tissues and prevent infection.
HBOT is an effective adjunctive therapy to standard therapies. HBOT increases the level of oxygen reaching the tissues, promotes the development of new blood vessels (angiogenesis), and when used along with offloading, treatment of infection, debridement, appropriate wound dressings, etc., can greatly enhance healing as well as reduce the risk of amputation.
Osteomyelitis is an infection of bone. Refractory osteomyelitis is chronic osteomyelitis that has not responded to standard treatment including surgical debridement and antibiotics. Blood flow is often impaired at the site of infection as a result of diabetes, other chronic diseases, and damage from previous surgical procedures. This impaired blood flow decreases the amount of oxygen reaching the site and prevents the body’s normal immune and healing functions from occurring. It also decreases the ability of antibiotics to reach the site of infection.
HBOT works adjunctively with surgical debridement and antibiotics by delivering 100% oxygen to the affected area. Enhanced oxygen levels stimulate the cellular activity of osteoclasts and osteoblasts to build new and healthy bone tissue. HBOT also enhances leukocyte function to better control infection and is thought to enhance the efficacy of systemic
Skin grafts are often used to replace lost skin due to open wounds, burns, and or other injury. Skin grafts are taken from a healthy area of the body and placed in the affected area. Skin grafts do not have their own blood supply so they rely on the underlying wound bed to provide the necessary oxygen and nutrients to survive. If the wound bed where the graft is placed does not have enough oxygen supplied to it, the skin graft may partially or completely fail. The reasons for a lack of oxygen in the wound bed may include diabetes, poor blood circulation, poor nutrition, smoking, underlying infection, and previous radiation injury.
Selected Video Resources
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT), San Francisco Bay Area and Beyond
You are likely here because you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area and you are struggling with unresolved health problems and want to get your life back on track. Or you’re a family member and you’re here on their behalf.
You may have any number of medical issues – radiation damage, wounds or infections that won’t heal, or other health problems. You’re tired of doctor visits and you’re discouraged that your condition isn’t getting better. You may be in in pain, your life and relationships are suffering, and you may feel like you’re a burden on the people you care about. All you want is to feel better and get back to your normal life – work, kids, social life, and physical activities.
You’ve likely tried many different treatments, none of which have fully helped. You may have tried medication, procedures, and lifestyle changes. You may be facing unwanted surgeries or painful procedures. After countless doctor visits, you’re still not feeling better.
When people aren’t getting healthy, one of the causes that’s often overlooked is a lack of oxygen in their tissues and bones. Without enough oxygen, cells can’t reproduce fast enough to fully repair. A surprising range of health issues can be resolved by saturating your tissues with hyperbaric oxygen – meaning oxygen that goes deeply into your tissues.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy has been around for over 40 years, and is approved by the American Medical Association, Medicare, FDA, the Mayo Clinic, and insurance companies to treat a variety of conditions. It works by delivering 400 times the normal amount of oxygen to every cell in the body – including those that have been depleted and damaged. It’s medically proven to be safe and effective. Until recently, this form of therapy wasn’t readily available, but with advances in technology, Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is becoming more accessible.
Bay Area Hyperbarics is the longestrunning independent hyperbaric clinic in the country. We have experienced doctors and technicians, and have provided over 50,000 treatments. We partner with physicians at Stanford, Kaiser, Palo Alto Medical Foundation, and other institutions to provide excellent care that will get you back on your feet. We are committed to providing the best possible care in a welcoming environment, and the safety and comfort of each patient is our primary commitment.
Our Founder, Lisa St. John, understands the problems you face because she’s been there herself. She used hyperbarics to heal her own body after a long, protracted, painful illness. She trained at Harvard and Stanford, and her mission is to make this form of healing available to anyone who needs it.
Other websites with articles and studies
Numerous articles and studies have been published regarding the healing benefits of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy.
- Undersea Hyperbaric Medical Society
- Harch Hyperbarics
- International Hyperbarics Association, Inc.
- Hyperbaric Medical Association
- Baromedical Nurses Association
- BaroMedical Hyperbaric Oxygen Clinic
- Baromedical Nurses Association
- MUMS National Parent-to-Parent Network
- Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Providers Worldwide
- The American Association for Hyperbaric Awareness
- Postradiation Osteonecrosis of the Mandible
- Spastic diplegic cerebral palsy article
For physicians and medical practitioners
The following articles are from the Hyperbaric Oxygen 2003: Indications and Results, The Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Committee Report by John J. Feldmeier, D.O., Chairman and Editor. Copyright 2008, Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society, Inc., Kensington, MD. Visit: www.uhms.org
- Air or Gas Embolism
- Carbon Monoxide
- Clostridial Myonecrosis
- Crush Injuries-Skeletal Muscle
- Delayed Radiation Injuries
- Severe Anemia
- Healing in Problem Wounds
- Necrotizing Soft Tissue
- Randomized Controlled Trials
- Refractory Osteomyelitis
- Side Effects and Complications
- Skin Grafts and Flaps
- Thermal Burns
- Central Retinal Artery Occlusion
- Decompression Sickness