Over the years, an abundance of clinical studies and trials have been carried out respecting hyperbaric medicine treatment.
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Documented medical benefits are found across many medical fields including the following:
- Plastic surgery, dermatology and cosmetic
- Radiation Injury
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) can be very effective in the treatment of bone-related disorders. The benefits of HBOT is due to its ability to stimulate both osteoblasts and osteoclasts, producing new blood vessels, increasing oxygen content in bone, and reducing infections and edema. In fact, HBOT successfully treats each of the following conditions:
- Chronic refractory osteomyelitis
- Crash injuries
- Inflammatory arthritis
- Skeletal compartment syndrome
Osteomyelitis is an infection of the bone or marrow due to bacteria or mycobacteria. It has been demonstrated that HBOT is a possible soothing solution in the management of refractory osteomyelitis. Presently, no randomized controlled trials have been performed to evaluate and quantify the efficacy of HBOT for this condition, however there are many clinical series and cohort studies concluding that HBOT improves clinical outcomes.
A typical example of osteonecrosis is that of the femoral head. Initiating either from a direct injury or a non-traumatic factor, an interruption to the bone’s blood supply compromises the already precarious circulation of the femoral head. HBOT benefits this condition because it:
- Restores tissue oxygenation
- Reduces oedema
- Reduces pain
- Reduces the intraosseous pressure
- Improves range of motion
- Restores venous drainage
- Improves microcirculation
It is also well-documented that an increased supply of oxygen is fundamental to the healing of fractures. Thankfully, through HBOT, it is possible for hypoxic tissues to recover because this therapy:
- Produces demarcation of compromised tissue
- Sterilizes against anaerobic germs
- Enhances the effectiveness of antibiotics in hypoxic tissue region
- Reduces o risk of osteonecrosis or osteomyelitis.
Chronic non-healing ulcers can be effectively treated by HBOT. In particular, HBOT successfully treats diabetic foot. The increased oxygen levels in the wound promote healing by angiogenesis. HBOT cannot substitute traditional therapies, but its antibacterial and bacteriostatic effects are unrivalled. This adjunctive therapy can lead the patient to have a dramatic reduction in wound size/depth, and thereby minimizing the risk of amputation.
Radiation injuries are side effects of external beam radiotherapy, and radiation-induced cystitis and proctitis can often form in the soft tissues. This is caused by inflammation, known as obliterative endarteritis, and causes haematuria, anaemia, urinary frequency, dysuria, incontinence or retention due to clots obstructing the urethra, diarrhoea, bowel incontinence, and rectal bleeding. Several HBOT clinical studies show significant improvement to life quality and resolving the condition of haematuria in almost all patients.
Clinical evidence attesting to the safety and efficacy of HBOT treatment for eye disorders is overwhelming. HBOT, therefore, successfully treats an array of eye diseases associated with diabetes, infection, intoxication, injuries, degenerative disease and radiation therapy. Among these disorders, HBOT successfully treats CRAO (Central Retinal Artery Occlusion), Macular Degeneration, Retinitis Pigmentosa, Radiation Optic Neuropathy, corneal disorders, and infections found between the eye and eye socket.
Studies of HBOT and cancer have not shown efficacy in this field of pathologies however it is considered to be entirely safe for cancer patients to undergo HBOT because it neither acts as a stimulator of tumor growth nor as an enhancer of recurrence. To date, the only implications of HBOT in this field suggests that it might have a tumor-inhibitory effect in certain cancer subtypes, but as yet this is still to be proved.
Read also: What are the benefits of HBOT?
Thanks to HBOT it is possible to improvement or heal various hearing conditions.
To correctly function, the auditory system requires a large amount of oxygen. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy takes advantages of dissolved oxygen in the plasma which is directly proportional to the pressure. From several studies, and thanks to clinical experiences, it has emerged that HBOT significantly improves hearing conditions: increasing oxygen levels within the inner-ear structure, improving cochlear microcirculation, reducing endothelial oedema, and increasing perfusion to the inner ear which stimulates cell repair. HBOT successfully treats the following:
- Sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL)
- Acoustic trauma
- Inner-ear barotrauma
SSHL is commonly known as sudden deafness, and its cause lies in the inner ear’s auditory nerve. It is characterized by a rapid hearing loss, usually in one ear, either at once or over several days.
Acoustic traumas can affect military personnel during operations due to noise exposures greater than decibels. The acoustic trauma is sudden and usually unilateral, and can cause acute Noise Induced Hearing Loss. Again, this trauma affects the inner ear structure, in particularly the inner and outer hair cells, in the organ of Corti within the cochlear.
Inner-ear barotrauma is damage to the inner ear due to pressure differences caused by incomplete or forced equalization, and it typically affects divers after the ascent phase.
As we have summarized above, HBOT applications primarily relate to injuries and diseases of the skin such as thermal burns, necrotizing infections, limbs at risk and skin grafts, chronic skin ulcers, healing of wounds and gangrene. Now the benefits of HBOT also extend to optimizing post-op healing following cosmetic surgery, as well as non-invasive cosmetic therapies for skin rejuvenation, anti-aging, and improving skin tone including cellulite and wrinkle reduction.