HOW DOES HYPERBARIC OXYGEN THERAPY WORK?
Increased oxygen dissolved in the plasma results in increased oxygen to damaged tissue, improved infection control, stimulation of healing factors, greater blood vessel formation (angiogenesis),
and the elimination and/or reduced effects of toxic substances (i.e., CO poisoning).
The additional oxygen being delivered to the organs and tissues in the body improves the benefits of certain antibiotics,
activates white blood cells to fight infection, and promotes the wound healing process.
Mechanisms of Action
There are several beneficial mechanisms associated with intermittent exposure to hyperbaric oxygen,
usually as adjunctive therapy with other medical and surgical procedures:
Hyper-oxygenation to tissue with compromised blood flow: Elevated pressure in the hyperbaric chamber results in a 10-15 fold increase in plasma oxygen concentration, which helps hypoxic tissue meet the high metabolic needs necessary during healing.
Neovascularization & Epithelialization is a delayed benefit of hyperbaric oxygen exposure: New formation of collagen as well as capillary angiogenesis in areas that were resistant to neovascularization - in both acute and chronic injuries. Regenerating skin cells also function more effectively in a high-oxygen environment.
Antimicrobial Activity and Immune Response is enhanced on various levels: HBOT inhibits and/or inactivates the toxins of certain bacteria. Local tissue resistance to infection is directly related to tissue oxygen levels. HBOT also enhances the ability of white blood cells to trap and kill invading organisms, and acts synergistically with antibiotics. In leukocytes, oxygen is converted into superoxides, peroxides, and hydroxyl radicals that are lethal to bacteria.
Pressure exerted by HBOT reduces the volume of intravascular or other free gas trapped in the body: Most commonly iatrogenic from cardiac surgery, vascular surgery, pelvic surgery, Cesarean section, and neurosurgical operations.
Attenuation of reperfusion injury. HBOT inhibits leukocyte adherence on post-capillary venules which limits reperfusion injury.
Maintaining High Energy Phosphate Bonds in Hypoxic Conditions, ATP levels fall and lactic acid levels increase: ATP is necessary for ion and molecular transport across cell membranes and maintenance of cellular viability. By decreasing tissue lactic acid levels and helping to maintain ATP levels, HBOT helps prevent damaged to injured tissue and ischemic wounds.