HBOT Information for Patients

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) and Wound Care

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is a specialized medical treatment in which the patient breathes 100 percent oxygen inside a pressurized chamber. Commonly known for its use in treating the bends (a scuba diving complication), modern hyperbaric therapy is also used to treat stubborn, non-healing wounds.

HBOT therapy quickly delivers concentrated oxygen to the bloodstream. This assists in the wound-healing process and is effective in fighting certain infections. It also helps the body grow new blood vessels, which can improve circulation and wound healing.

What are the benefits of HBOT? [+/-]

HBOT enriches your blood with higher than usual oxygen levels. Your blood then brings this extra oxygen to your cells, helping the body create more blood vessels, promote healing and control infection.

What does HBOT treat? [+/-]

At Northwest Hospital, hyperbaric oxygen therapy is used to treat:

  • Diabetic wounds
  • Chronic osteomyelitis (bone infections)
  • Radiation tissue damage
  • Skin grafts and flaps

How long does HBOT treatment take, and what can I expect? [+/-]

HBOT treatments are usually administered over a 90-minute period.

The HBOT chamber is made of glass, allowing you to see through it. The chamber is large enough for you to lie down or sit up comfortably. Most patients pass treatment time by watching TV, listening to music or taking a nap.

At times while receiving treatment, you might notice your ears popping or feeling like they need to pop. Some patients liken this sensation, which is caused by a change in air pressure, to what one might experience when flying in an airplane. A member of your medical team will show you how to safely unplug your ears.

How many HBOT treatments will I need? [+/-]

This depends on your condition and how quickly you respond to the therapy. Patients usually receive HBOT treatment once per day, five days per week. Some patients require 40 to 60 total treatments. Please discuss your specific treatment plan with your doctor or care team.

How safe is HBOT? [+/-]

While generally safe, HBOT carries some minor risks. The most common side effects are ear pain and vision changes, but these are usually temporary nuisances that go away when treatment ends. Your HBOT physician will review possible side effects with you before treatment, and the HBOT team will closely monitor you to ensure your treatment is safe.

What do I need to do to prepare for an HBOT treatment? [+/-]

To prepare, follow the instructions that you receive from your HBOT care team. All patients need to do the following:

  • Create a list of all your prescription and over-the-counter medications and dietary supplements to give to your HBOT team physician. Some of these may affect how you respond to HBOT.
  • If you are sick, let the treatment team know. Common cold, flu and stomach virus symptoms may require you to pause or delay your treatment until you are feeling well enough again.
  • Leave personal items at home, as you will not be able to bring them into the HBOT chamber. We will provide you with TV, movie and music entertainment options. Do not bring pens, food, gum, candy, lighters or cigarettes.
  • Do not smoke or use tobacco products during the course of your therapy. Tobacco will limit the amount of blood and oxygen to the site of your medical condition, making HBOT less effective.
  • When you come for your HBOT treatment, do not wear:
    • Makeup
    • Perfume
    • Aftershave
    • Hairspray or other hair products
    • Alcohol- or petroleum-based products
    • Nail polish
    • Wigs or hairpieces
    • Items made of metal (jewelry, watches, coins, etc.)
    • Flammable materials
    • Heat-producing items (heating pads or gloves)
    • Hearing aids

If you have any further questions about your HBOT treatment, ask your physician or call 410-601-7191.

Medical Director
Alan Davis, M.D.

Manager, Hyperbaric Safety Director
Michele Stiller, RN, BSN, WCC, CHRN

Hyperbaric Safety Director
Kathleen Levering, RN, BSN, WCC, ACHRN