The goal of hyperbaric oxygen therapy is to increase the amount of oxygen delivered to the diseased tissue to help it heal. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy may be used alone or in conjunction with conventional therapies (integrative medicine.)
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy allows a patient to breathe very high concentrations of oxygen. By placing the patient in a chamber and increasing the air concentration of oxygen, it increases the amount of oxygen concentration in the blood which travels through the body and then to areas requiring healing. By breathing 100% oxygen under increased pressure, we can increase the amount of oxygen dissolved in the blood up to 15 times normal concentrations.
How is hyperbaric oxygen therapy applied to the patient?
The patient is placed in a chamber of suitable size and the pressure surrounding the patient is increased by allowing oxygen to flow into the sealed chamber (see picture above).
What is a treatment protocol?
Oxygen should be considered a drug and just as any other drug we might administer it has various doses. Frequencies of administration and duration of therapy depends on the disease being treated. For example, a protocol might call for a patient to receive 2 atmospheres of pressure (like diving to 33 ft. in the ocean) for 1 hr. every other day for 7-10 treatments. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy may be used alone or in conjunction with conventional therapies.
What are the indications for hyperbaric oxygen therapy?
In general, any condition or disease in which the circulation to the diseased tissue has been compromised will benefit from this therapy. Hyperbaric therapy is a primary treatment for some diseases including severe smoke inhalation, Clostridial and other anaerobic infections, and compromised wounds. Hyperbaric therapy is beneficial in athletic injuries such as desmitis, tendonitis, and fractures. Other diseases for which hyperbaric therapy is indicated include acute laminitis, reperfusion diseases (intestinal obstruction, colon torsions, volvulus, etc.), enteritis, ileus, endotoxemia, infertility, Rhodococcus pneumonia, Lyme’s disease, osteomyelitis, compressive cord lesions post-op, cerebral trauma and vascular disease, peripheral neuropathies, to mention just a few.
How do I know if my horse would benefit from hyperbaric oxygen therapy?
The veterinarians at the University of Tennessee Veterinary Medical Center Equine Hospital and at other hyperbaric centers are good resources for consultation on the use of hyperbaric therapy in the horse. We continue to develop studies to review all the potential uses for this therapy in animals.
Are risks associated with hyperbaric oxygen therapy?
The risks associated are minimal if it is properly applied. As with any drug therapy, there are occasions where unanticipated reactions occur, but these are rare. Thousands of animals have been successfully treated with this therapy. Oxygen toxicity and barotrauma are two effects of administering oxygen under pressure that are continuously monitored for during therapy. The incidence of these effects is minimized by proper dosing, frequency, and duration of pressure and oxygen and proper compression and decompression procedures.
Are there side effects of hyperbaric oxygen therapy?
Side effects in animals are very infrequent.