Hyperbaric Oxygenation; Hyperbaric Therapy; Hyperbaric Medicine; HBOT; HBO2

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) involves breathing 100 percent oxygen in a sealed chamber. This concentration is five times higher than the normal air we breathe. The chamber is also pressurized to create 1.5 to three times normal atmospheric pressure. These changes can improve blood circulation and the blood’s ability to deliver oxygen to the body.

Reasons for Hyperbaric Therapy

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been used to treat many health problems, including:

  • An air bubble, or embolism, which gets into the circulatory system and blocks blood flow
  • Decompression sickness, which can occur when divers or miners come to the surface too quickly
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Wound healing, especially in patients with poor circulation
  • Radiation therapy injuries following treatment for cancer
  • Skin grafts, flaps or burns

What to Expect During Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Prior to Procedure

  • Your child should wear comfortable clothes.
  • Older children should bring a book or an activity that they can do in the chamber.

During Hyperbaric Treatment

Your child will lie down on a padded table, which slides into a tube. This is called a single-person hyperbaric chamber. In some cases, hyperbaric chambers may be large, holding more than a dozen people.

A technician will gradually pressurize the chamber with 100 percent oxygen. Your child will be able to talk to this person. While in the hyperbaric chamber, your child will be instructed to:

  • Relax and breathe normally.
  • If your child's ears pop, or he has discomfort and is old enough to know what is going on, tell the technician. She may be able to lower the pressure.
  • Your child should swallow or blow with his nose pinched to relieve discomfort.

After getting to the right pressure, your child will have a clear plastic hood or mask placed over their head. This will deliver oxygen. If your child is at a high risk for oxygen toxicity, he may be allowed to breathe regular air for brief periods.

Immediately After Hyperbaric Therapy

Over a period of several minutes, the technician will slowly depressurize the hyperbaric chamber. Your child will likely have some ear popping and feel lightheaded and tired. However, your child should be able to go back to your daily activities. Your child may have more than one session over a period of several days.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Treatment Length

one-half hour to two hours

Average Hospital Stay

Unless your child has another medical condition, he will be able to go home after hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

Post-Procedure Care

In most cases, there is no special care after hyperbaric treatment. Be sure to follow the doctor’s instructions.

Call Your Doctor

After you leave the hospital, contact your child's doctor if any of the following occurs:

  • Discomfort or pain in your sinuses or ears
  • Onset of seizures
  • Vision problems
  • Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain

In case of an emergency, call 911.