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Hyperbaric medicine

Hyperbaric medicine is a treatment requiring increased atmospheric pressure. One common component, hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), uses the higher atmospheric pressure to provide increased amounts of oxygen to the body to reinforce healing.


Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) in Tallahassee, Florida

When combined with standard medical and/or surgical care, HBOT can be an effective treatment for various medical conditions.

At HCA Florida Capital Hospital, we use HBOT to enhance wound healing and promote circulation. Except for certain emergency situations, HBOT is most often used as part of an overall treatment plan, which may include antibiotics, special dressings, debridement and other therapies. Working together, our care team crafts a personalized treatment plan to fit your needs.

Conditions we treat with HBOT

Some conditions that may benefit from HBOT include:

  • Carbon monoxide and cyanide poisoning
  • Chronic osteomyelitis
  • Compromised flaps or grafts
  • Crush injuries and other acute traumatic ischemia
  • Delayed radiation injuries (soft tissue and bony necrosis)
  • Diabetic ulcers of lower extremities
  • Gas gangrene
  • Necrotizing infections
  • Severe burns

Understanding HBOT

HBOT is a treatment in which you breathe 100 percent oxygen in a controlled, pressurized environment. 

Benefits of HBOT

Breathing 100 percent oxygen at above-normal pressure helps to deliver a high concentration of oxygen to the body's tissues. This large dose of oxygen helps the healing process by:

  • Fighting infection
  • Improving circulation to affected areas
  • Promoting new blood vessel and tissue growth

Preparing for your hyperbaric treatment

For safety reasons, certain items are not allowed inside the hyperbaric chamber. Please do not wear or bring any of the following items:

  • Alcohol or petroleum-based products
  • Hairspray, hair oil or gel, wigs or hairpieces
  • Makeup, perfume, aftershave and lotions
  • Matches, lighters or flammable materials
  • Watches, hearing aids or electronic devices

Please notify the staff if you come down with a cold or flu. This may impact your treatments. Also, please alert the staff if there is any change in your medications. If you have diabetes, please eat appropriately and continue to follow your daily routine.

If you smoke, please refrain from smoking as much as possible during the time period for which you will be having treatments. It may advance your healing process if you stop smoking altogether during this time.

What to expect during HBOT

After an initial consultation and evaluation by a hyperbaric physician, you and the physician will set a time and date to start the treatment. We often administer hyperbaric medicine on an outpatient basis. Medicare and most healthcare plans reimburse patients for hyperbaric treatment.

Our specially trained staff will give you complete instructions on your treatment and explain all of the expectations and risks of your therapy plan. However, in general, you can expect the following:

  • When you first arrive, you will be provided with 100 percent cotton garments to change into before the treatment. You will be asked to remove your shoes, and no outside items will be allowed in the chamber. Your physician may do a cursory exam of your ears. Your vital signs will be taken before treatment, including your blood sugar, if needed.
  • When you are ready, we will prepare you for the treatment by lying you down on a special hyperbaric bed. We will provide you with water and a blanket. One of our staff members is always in attendance while the treatment is in progress.
  • When your treatment starts, the chamber will be pressurized, similar to the pressurizing of an airplane cabin. The pressure on your ears will need to be cleared by swallowing, yawning or other methods. The initial pressurization will only take five to seven minutes until we reach the appropriate pressure or depth.
  • During your treatment, you may watch television, listen to music, relax or sleep. The oxygen is administered at different time intervals, for a total of 90 minutes of oxygen. The total time inside the chamber is usually just less than two hours.
  • After your treatment, we will depressurize the chamber slowly, taking about five minutes to reach the "surface." There will be no noticeable side effects that will prevent you from going about your daily routine.