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Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) is used to treat carbon monoxide poisoning and smoke inhalation injuries. Given within the first 48 to 72 hours of a burn injury, HBO therapy increases the oxygen saturation in the body, which speeds up the recovery process. Hyperbaric oxygen is also a valuable treatment for patients with chronic wounds, damaged soft tissues, and certain life-threatening conditions.

The William Randolph Hearst Burn Center at NewYork-Presbyterian offers 24-hour consultation for burn survivors considering HBO therapy. HBO therapy is administered in conjunction with the referring physician's plan of care. The standard of care has been established by the current guidelines of the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society.

Inpatient Treatment

Patients requiring hospitalization, particularly those with critical illness, will be admitted to the Burn Center at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. Depending on the diagnosis, patients generally receive one to three treatments per day. For patients requiring critical care, a staff member will accompany them into the chamber and monitor the treatment. Staff members are on call 24 hours per day, seven days a week to treat any emergencies.

Outpatient Treatment

Treatment will be coordinated by staff in close collaboration with the referring physician. We provide outpatient services Monday through Friday. Daily treatments begin at 7:00 am, with the last treatment of the day at 5:30 pm. Treatment sessions lasts approximately 2 hours.

Referring physicians should consider hyperbaric oxygen therapy if:

  • The patient has an acute condition, such as
    • Acute carbon monoxide poisoning (carboxyhemoglobin > 25% or >15% in pregnant women)*
    • Cerebral artery gas embolism
    • Gas gangrene (clostridial myonecrosis)
    • Crush injury, compartment syndrome
    • Decompression sickness**
    • Exceptional blood loss anemia
    • Necrotizing soft tissue infections
    • Hemorrhagic radiation cystitis

*Patients with carbon monoxide poisoning may require up to three treatments immediately following exposure. The first treatment must occur within 24 hours of exposure.
**A specific plan for patients with decompressions sickness will be arranged in collaboration with Divers Alert Network (DAN) to determine the proper dive table.

  • The patient has a chronic condition, such as
    • Osteoradionecrosis
    • Chronic diabetic foot ulcers
    • Radiation tissue injury
    • Chronic osteomyelitis (refractory to antibiotics and debridement)

Long-standing infections or other chronic conditions such as osteoradionecrosis may require up to 50 treatments or more over a period of several weeks. Most patients receive one treatment per day.

Treatment lasts approximately two hours. The patient may sit or recline comfortably and rest, or watch television and movies on our plasma televisions. The number of treatments is determined by the patient's diagnosis and response to therapy. Continuous supervision and monitoring are provided by the experienced registered nurses and respiratory therapists.