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Hyperbaric Medicine Offers Major Advantages to Physicians, Surgeons, and Patients

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy, within a Sechrist hyperbaric chamber, has assumed an ever-expanding role in modern medical practice, offering numerous advantages to physicians, surgeons and patients. Its clinical use in a growing number of indications demonstrates its effectiveness in primary and adjunctive care. A hyperbaric chamber, combined with the team approach of a hyperbaric specialist and the referring physician, provides very effective treatment of various conditions.

Definition of Therapy
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy involves the systemic delivery of oxygen within the hyperbaric chamber at values two to three times greater than atmospheric pressure. Patients are placed in the hyperbaric chamber and breathe 100 percent oxygen while exposed to elevated ambient pressures. As an application of an established technology, hyperbaric oxygen therapy is helping to resolve a growing number of difficult, expensive or otherwise hopeless medical problems.

Physiological Basis of Therapy and Mechanisms of Action
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy within a Sechrist hyperbaric chamber results in a variety of physiological activities. Some are related directly to elevated pressures; others are related to increased oxygen effects in the blood stream, tissues and cells. Treatment pressures greater than sea level results in:
  • Elimination of intravascular and tissue gas bubbles, which trigger coagulopathy and other mechanisms in the complex diving disorder, decompression sickness.

  • Restoration of CNS perfusion by compression of intravascular gas emboli in pulmonary over-pressure diving accidents or iatrogenic intravascular gas embolism.

  •  Increased partial pressure of oxygen (tension) which increases the amount of oxygen dissolved in plasma. This can increase oxygen levels to approximately 450 mmHg at the tissue level.

    The effects of increased oxygen tensions are seen in a variety of different situations:

  • Vasoconstriction and reduction of edema in the area of trauma. Oxygen tension may be 10 to 20 times that achieved by normobaric oxygen breathing.

  • Rapid dissociation of carbon monoxide molecules from hemoglobin and cytochrome A3 oxidase (23 minutes at 3 ATA) as well as greatly improved delivery of dissolved oxygen in the plasma.

  • Stimulation of growth and occurrence of fibroblasts, osteoclasts and granulocytes, resulting in wound healing. The resulting angiogenesis enhances healing skin grafts, select problem wounds and compromised flaps.

  • Cessation of alpha toxin production by the clostridial organisms in gas gangrene.