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Conditions We Treat

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The Sacred Heart Hyperbaric Center treats the conditions recognized by the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society as appropriate for hyperbaric oxygen therapy. 

Emergent Indications

  • Air or Gas Embolism: An air or gas embolism occurs when gas bubbles enter the blood vessels and obstruct blood flow. This is most commonly the result of a diving accident, although other causes are possible. Hyperbaric treatments compress and resorb the bubbles, restoring the blood flow and oxygen supply to vital organs.

  • Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas produced by combustion that causes poisoning when it is inhaled. The severity of poisoning may range from mild to fatal. Hyperbaric oxygen treatment rapidly clears carbon monoxide from the body and reduces the risk of long-term neurological complications.

  • Compromised Skin Grafts and Flaps: Skin grafts and flaps are used to cover wounds by transferring skin or tissue from another part of the body. In some instances, the blood supply to the graft or flap does not provide sufficient oxygen to the cells and the graft is felt to be “compromised” and at risk for loss. Hyperbaric oxygen has the potential to provide increased oxygen to the compromised tissue and keep it alive until new blood vessels grow to support it.

  • Crush Injury: Crush injuries occur when legs or arms are severely traumatized, such as during motor vehicle accidents. These injuries may reduce blood flow and oxygen delivery to the muscles and other tissues. While surgery is the primary treatment for a crush injury, hyperbaric oxygen can be used to provide oxygen to damaged tissues.

  • Decompression Sickness: Decompression sickness (the “bends”) is a condition that can affect divers and is caused by excessive nitrogen absorption while underwater. It often results from staying underwater too long or ascending to the surface too rapidly. Joint pain, numbness and tingling are some of the common symptoms caused by nitrogen bubbles forming in tissue. Hyperbaric oxygen treatments compress and resorb the bubbles.

  • Exceptional Anemia: Red blood cells in the circulation carry oxygen to the body’s tissues and organs. If a person is severely anemic (low red blood cell count), the tissues are deprived of oxygen.

  • Gas Gangrene and Necrotizing Soft Tissue Infections: Patients with severe soft tissue infections can benefit from hyperbaric oxygen when is administered in conjunction with a surgical debridement and antibiotics.

Non-Emergent Indications

  • Chronic Wounds: Patients with diabetes and concurrent vascular disease can develop non-healing ulcers.  Hyperbaric oxygen can improve the blood flow and enhance the repairing process by stimulating the growth of new blood vessels and connective tissue.

  • Refractory Osteomyelitis: Refractory Osteomyelitis is an infection of the bone that has failed to respond and persist despite a conventional course of treatment

  • Delayed Radiation Therapy: During radiation treatment for cancer, surrounding, normal tissue also gets irradiated.  Some patients will go on and develop a condition called delayed radiation injury in which the irradiated tissue lacks of oxygen and becomes very friable as a result of inflammation of the blood vessels and surrounding connective tissue; involving skin, bladder, bowel, throat.