University Medical Center building

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Most wounds heal without any assistance at all, especially if a person is healthy. However, some wounds are so deep, so extensive, have so much injury, or are compromised by infection or other conditions that they won't heal. For wounds like these, hyperbaric oxygen therapy can help.

How does Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) work?

HBOT is primarily for wounds that fail the normal healing process, are prevented from healing by severe injury to tissue, are associated with a high death rate, or for which there is no other treatment. HBOT works by having the patient lie in an enclosed, comfortable chamber once or twice a day and exposing the patient to an increased pressure of oxygen for one to two hours per day. Through the daily exposure to increased pressures and levels of oxygen, non-healing wounds in the body respond by growing new tissue and healing. The new tissue growth results from HBOT-stimulated production of growth and repair hormones in the wounds.

HBOT at UMC New Orleans

The Hyperbaric Medicine service at UMC New Orleans involves multiple specialties, including General Surgery, Infectious Disease, Plastic Surgery, Orthopedic Surgery, Vascular Surgery, Interventional Radiology, Podiatry, and Physical and Occupational Therapy/Orthotic fabrication. This multi-disciplinary approach allows us to customize treatment to each individual patient and their wounds.

Some conditions where HBOT is performed on an outpatient basis are reimbursed by Medicare, Medicaid, insurance companies, or Workers Compensation.

These include:

  • Diabetic wounds of the lower leg
  • Radiation wounds
  • Arterial insufficiency ulcers
  • Chronic bone infections
  • Compromised flaps and grafts
  • Decompression sickness
  • Air or gas embolism
  • Sudden painless loss of vision
  • Sudden loss of hearing

Some conditions are treated on a case-by-case basis, such as:

  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Acute loss of blood supply to an extremity
  • Gas gangrene
  • Compartment syndrome
  • Intracranial abscess
  • Necrotizing soft tissue infections
  • Thermal burns
  • Severe anemia
  • Cyanide poisoning
  • Actinomycosis