Hyperbaric oxygen chamber helps heal wounds
Holy Redeemer Hospital is taking wound care to a new level by bringing the ultimate — at least for some — healer inside its walls.
Two hyperbaric oxygen chambers now sit inside the Meadowbrook hospital’s :RunG CaUH CHnWHU. ,naugurated in October of last year, the chambers can each accommodate up to four patients a day, according to Jim Armstrong, the RN and safety director who oversees the devices.
The treatment, which involves breathing pure oxygen in a pressurized room, is being used for wounds that have not healed as a result of diabetes or radiation treatment.
“,W’s nRW fRU aOO wRunGs,” Holy Redeemer Wound Care CHnWHU DLUHFWRU :LOOLaP LRu[ saLG. ,W’s fRU wRunGs resulting from tissue damage caused by a lack of blood flRw, suFK as an HPEROLsP EORFNLnJ WKH flRw Rf EORRG to a toe, or tissue damaged during radiation exposure, such as a cancer treatment, he said.
“The wounds are painful and could be life-altering,” he said.
One common reason to use hyperbaric therapy is when a patient has surgery on the neck and “sometimes they need radiation therapy and may lose the ability to spit, or get ulcers around WKHLU JuPs,” saLG DU. 3aWULFN Pellecchia, medical adviser fRU WKH wRunG FaUH FHnWHU. ,f such a patient needed to have a tooth removed, hyperbaric therapy would be prescribed beforehand “or it [the gum] would never heal.”
About 20 percent to 30 percent of those using the hyperbaric chamber have foot ulcers from diabetes, Pellecchia said. The wound goes into the tendon or bone and can cause an infection.
For some “part of a toe or a toe dies,” he said. “We had three people in the past three to four months where all three would have been referred for amputation,” he said. With hyperbaric oxygen therapy, sometimes tiny blood vessels will grow, UHnHwLnJ EORRG flRw, sR WKH patient will not require amputation.
With the hyperbaric oxygen chamber, the patient lies down and is slid into the transparent, 35-inch in diameter chamber, Loux said. DuULnJ WKH WwR-KRuU WUHaWment, patients can watch a 79 PRunWHG aERYH.
The number of treatments required varies, according to Pellecchia. For a dental problem it’s generally 10 before the extraction and 10 after; a diabetic ulcer and wounds caused by other obstructions to blood vessels would require 30 to 60 treatments, he said.
The treatments are cumulative, so “the best outcome” is achieved when the SaWLHnWs FRPHs fiYH Gays a week, Loux said.
The difference in oxygen level is, in a normal environment there is one atmosphere of pressure; in the chamber, it is two atmospheres of pressure, Pellecchia said. “The pressure drives the oxygen into the liquid in the tissue.”
The effect on the body is to grow small blood vessels to provide nutrients to the tissue that needs to be repaired, Armstrong said.
“,W KHOSs WR sWLPuOaWH ERnH remodeling … damage from LnfHFWLRn,” KH saLG. “,W wLOO activate things in the blood stream to break down the affected area bone and rebuild it.
“Bacteria thrive in an area that is not oxygen rich,” Armstrong said. “By saturating it with oxygen, you destroy the environment that bacteria like to grown in.”
“,W aOsR PaNHs WKH wKLWH blood cells work better,” Pellecchia said.
The treatment will not work on wounds in which the valves inside the veins don’t work right or for traumatic wounds or burns, Pellecchia said.
There are risks, he said. A patient could have seizures with prolonged exposure at 100 percent oxygen, he said, but in his more than 10 years Rf usLnJ WKH WKHUaSy “, KaYH not seen it.”
While terming it “an integral part of wound care,” Pellecchia said, it is “an adjunct treatment,” except fRU WKH WRRWK WUHaWPHnW. ,f after the normal treatment a wound doesn’t heal, “we use this as an add-on treatment.”
“,W wRUNs EHWWHU Rn H[WHUnal wounds” than on internal ones, he said.
“,W’s nRW LnYasLYH aW aOO; LW’s a very relaxed treatment in a relaxed environment,” Loux said.
“The other course is amputation,” Armstrong said. ,n WKH SasW, GLaEHWLFs ORsW WRHs anG finJHUs. “7KH fiYHyear mortality rate for a diabetic with amputation is 50 percent to 60 percent higher.
“We try to keep them as whole as we can so they can return to a more normal life.”
To Your Health Linda Finarelli