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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.

HCAH_Specialty_HyperbaricMedicine

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) in Miami

Combined with standard medical and/or surgical care, HBOT can be an effective treatment option for many medical conditions.

At the Hyperbaric and Wound Care Center at HCA Florida Mercy Hospital, we use evidence-based practices and technologies to help patients heal as quickly as possible. Our physicians work together to treat a variety of conditions with HBOT, from chronic wounds to carbon monoxide poisoning. This collaborative approach to care helps ensure treatment is tailored to meet your unique needs.

Wounds and other conditions we treat

Hyperbaric treatment may be used to treat severe wounds and a variety of other medical conditions, including:

  • Acute traumatic peripheral ischemia
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Compromised skin grafts and flaps
  • Crush injuries
  • Diabetic wounds (diabetic ulcers) of the lower extremities
  • Gangrene
  • Necrotizing soft tissue infections
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Post-radiation tissue injuries
  • Pressure ulcers
  • Wounds caused by poor circulation or trauma
  • Wounds that haven't healed after several weeks

Understanding HBOT

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

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:

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

The most familiar use of HBOT is in the treatment of decompression illness and arterial gas embolism. Both conditions are prevalent among divers. Our hyperbaric wound clinic is equipped to handle these situations, and we are designated as the Divers Alert Network's (DAN) regional coordinators for Florida and the Caribbean.


How a hyperbaric chamber works

We have two multi-place hyperbaric chambers capable of treating up to three patients at a time. The chambers can simulate pressures of depth equivalent to up to 66 feet. In each chamber, pure oxygen is provided to patients as prescribed by the hyperbaric physician.

All aspects of the hyperbaric chamber have been designed with patient safety and comfort in mind. The chamber has windows and seating. A highly trained hyperbaric technician is inside the chamber with the patient at all times, and an HBOT physician is on-site as well.

Medical personnel at an outside control console constantly monitor video and audio communications. Most hyperbaric treatments are provided in two-hour segments, but treatments for diving-related injuries may last up to five hours.


How to prepare for hyperbaric treatment

For safety reasons, makeup, hairspray, flammable items and jewelry are not allowed inside the hyperbaric chamber. When scheduling an appointment, you will be provided with a comprehensive list.

HBOT will not be administered to sick patients with the cold or flu, as it may affect treatment. 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 for which you will have treatments. It may advance your healing process if you stop smoking altogether during this time.

You should continue to take all existing medications unless otherwise directed by your physician.


What to expect during hyperbaric oxygen treatment

Our specially trained staff will give you complete instructions on your treatment and explain all of your therapy plan's expectations and risks. 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.
  • When your treatment starts, the chamber will be pressurized, similar to how an airplane cabin is pressurized. The pressure on your ears will need to be cleared by swallowing, yawning or other methods. Our staff can instruct you on the best practices for this. 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.
  • After your treatment, we will depressurize the chamber slowly, taking about five minutes to reach the "surface."

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