About Hyperbarics >> Diabetic Foot Ulcer > FAQs
What is hyperbaric oxygen therapy?

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is a treatment option for diabetic patients with a foot ulcer, where the patient inhales 100% oxygen in a pressurized chamber. This method helps the body increase the oxygen levels in the blood. It also exposes the affected tissues to more oxygen than would otherwise be present, thus allowing for enhanced healing.

 How does hyperbaric oxygen therapy work? 

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy increases the saturation of oxygen in the blood, due to the enhancement of atmospheric pressure. Increased oxygen can promote white blood cell activity, encourage tissue development and induce capillary growth. This method can be beneficial for a variety of conditions, but is proving exceptionally promising in the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers.

What health issues can benefit from hyperbaric chamber treatments?

While diabetic foot ulcers are the primary focus of this therapy, it is not the only condition that can benefit from hyperbaric chamber treatments. Hyperbaric chambers can be used to treat cyanide or carbon monoxide poisoning, decompression sickness, embolisms, compartment syndrome and thermal burns. These are only a short list of the possible uses for this technology.

Is this treatment painful and how much participation is required of the patient?

No! This treatment is not painful to the patient. A small degree of discomfort may be experienced from the increased pressure in the patients ears and sinuses. This feeling is similar to that experienced during a takeoff or landing in an aircraft. The patient can relieve the pressure through yawning or other techniques. This method is actually relaxing. The patient can nap, watch an externally mounted TV or DVD player, or listen to music thru the external sound connector. There may be brief moments of interruption during periodic air breaks but otherwise it is a very peaceful, healing experience. The patient is required to arrive for the appointment without perfumes, colognes or hair products. Many hyperbaric centers offer comfortable 100% cotton garments and booties to enhance the comfort of the treatment.

How many treatments are necessary?

The amount of treatments will vary, according to the patient and the condition requiring treatment. For diabetic foot ulcers, the course of treatment can vary from approximately 20 to 40, 1 to 2 hour sessions, depending on the progress of the wounds healing.

Are there any side effects?

Hyperbaric chamber treatment is extremely safe and side effects are rare. One in 10,000 people may incur oxygen toxicity. Others may experience vision changes or a dry cough, which usually clear up after treatment is completed. If a patient suffers from claustrophobia, he/she may need to be educated on relaxation techniques, due to the enclosed space. Otherwise, hyperbaric chamber treatment is one of the safest medical treatments available today.

How successful is hyperbaric oxygen treatment in treating diabetic foot ulcers?

Without successful treatment, diabetic foot ulcers can eventually lead to amputation. 15% of diabetics will suffer foot ulcers at some point in their disease, and 80% of diabetes related amputations begin with these hard to heal ulcers. Traditional treatments are more successful when used in conjunction with hyperbaric chamber treatment. The increase in success is due to the fact that the tissues around the ulcer are exposed to increased oxygen and enhanced vascular healing. This technology does not replace the need for proper wound care and it should be utilized for patients who are not healing after one month of incurring the ulcer.

Will these treatments be covered by insurance?

Medicare and private insurance generally cover the cost for hyperbaric oxygen chamber treatment in cases of diabetic foot ulcers, decompression sickness, cyanide or carbon monoxide poisoning and embolisms. When used for non conventional conditions, or experimentally, it will need to be approved for payment prior to treatment. Medicare requires that a physician be present throughout the entire treatment process.

Are hyperbaric chambers expensive to buy and are they profitable?

Hyperbaric chambers require a reasonable investment; however, when you purchase from a reputable provider, the parts and maintenance are relatively inexpensive. This machine can be very profitable, even for a single physician charging average prices for each treatment. Most importantly, these treatments are priceless for the diabetic patients suffering from foot ulcers that won't heal since it may well prevent amputation.