Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) delivers a high dose of oxygen that is inhaled by the patient while in a pressurized chamber. This therapy is becoming more commonly used as part of a primary treatment and an adjunctive treatment in the veterinary world. It has been used in human medicine for decades to treat conditions from wounds to radiation injury to decompression sickness in scuba divers.
During treatment increased amounts of oxygen are dissolved in the plasma (as opposed to carried by hemoglobin) and carried to the tissues in the body. This effect, along with increased pressure, then causes higher oxygen tensions through the vasculature resulting in oxygen being delivered even further into distal tissues. The therapeutic effects of HBOT go beyond higher oxygen levels in the body.
Hyperbaric oxygen treatment:
- increases oxygen delivery throughout the body
- decreases swelling and edema
- reduces inflammation
- improves tissue salvage
- alters effects of ischemia (or the lack of blood flow)
- boosts cellular and collagen proliferation
- stimulates formation of new blood supply
- helps prevent reperfusion injury
- accelerates bacterial killing
- promotes production of growth factors and release of stem cells
- helps control infection and increases the effects of some antibiotics
- decreases brain swelling
- enhances oxygen radical scavengers