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Patient Education - Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Chronic Refractory Osteomyelitis

Patient Education - Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Chronic Refractory Osteomyelitis

Patient Education - Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Chronic Refractory Osteomyelitis

   Patient Education Handout (downloadable)

What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)?

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is a medical treatment in which the patient breathes pure oxygen under pressure. It is administered in a chamber and is the treatment for many medical and surgical conditions. It is usually part of an overall plan of care which may involve surgery, antibiotics or other therapy, but for certain conditions it may be the main treatment.

How does HBOT work?

During hyperbaric oxygen therapy, 100% oxygen is delivered in a closed chamber, and air pressure is increased to as much as 3 times normal. This causes a dramatic increase in oxygen taken in by the lungs which is then transferred to the blood.  The blood then transports the oxygen to all parts of the body. The oxygen-rich blood helps improve healing and controls infection in certain conditions.

How does HBOT help heal my chronic refractory osteomyelitis (CROM)?

CROM is an infection in the bone that has persisted or returned despite receiving the appropriate treatment. With CROM, blood flow is decreased, which leads to low levels of oxygen at the infected bone site. The low levels of oxygen cause the specialized cells that heal bone to function poorly. The combination of the infection and low levels of oxygen can lead to bone death.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been proven to be beneficial with this condition by delivering more oxygen to the infected bone (Figure 1)HBOT also assists with healing by:
  • Supporting white blood cell removal of bacteria
  • Facilitating new bone formation and removal of dead bone
  • Enhancing antibiotic activity
  • Stimulating new blood vessel growth
  • Improving swelling (edema) by reducing inflammatory cell activity
Figure 1. Effects of hyperbaric oxygen therapy on chronic refractory osteomyelitis

What should I expect with HBOT for my CROM?

  • The number of hyperbaric treatments is determined by the complexity of the bone infection. The number of treatments may range from 20 to 40 times, and are scheduled daily. 
  • You will continue regular wound follow up with your healthcare professional.
  • If the bone infection does not improve after a course of HBOT, additional surgery may be needed to remove the infected bone and/or antibiotic therapy may be re-started.
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NOTE: This is a controlled document. This document is not a substitute for proper training, experience, and exercising of professional judgment. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the contents, neither the authors nor the Wound Reference, Inc. give any guarantee as to the accuracy of the information contained in them nor accept any liability, with respect to loss, damage, injury or expense arising from any such errors or omissions in the contents of the work.
Topic 1316 Version 1.0