Under Pressure, Patient Gets a Healing Boost

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Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Treats Difficult Wounds

MARIETTA (March 2, 2007) — After struggling with fibrocystic breast disease, Marietta resident Sheila B. decided to get a double mastectomy in 1988 to remove the fibrous breast tissue and decrease her risk for breast cancer. Little did she know getting saline breast implants would come back to haunt her almost 20 years later.

Last year, Sheila’s annual mammogram revealed the implants were leaking and needed to be removed. After the surgical procedure was done, Sheila wasn’t pleased with the cosmetic result.

“Getting a tummy tuck as part of the procedure was a bonus,” said Sheila. “But unfortunately, my abdomen didn’t heal after using some of its tissue to reconstruct my breasts. They say time heals all wounds, but it wasn’t healing mine.”

To jump-start the healing process, Sheila was referred by her surgeon to HyOx Medical Treatment Center for hyperbaric oxygen (HBO2) therapy. The hyperbaric and rehabilitative medicine facility administers HBO2 to accelerate healing. It works by patients breathing 100 percent pure oxygen in a pressurized hyperbaric chamber at two to three times the pressure at sea level. By delivering the oxygen at an increased atmospheric pressure, the areas of the body devoid of oxygen are reached and are able to begin the healing process.

Normal air is only 21 percent oxygen. Increasing the tissue oxygen content in the body by 10 to 15 times with 100 percent oxygen delivered at 45 feet below sea level supersaturates the plasma to reach the oxygen-deprived areas of the body. The oxygen is delivered at HyOx in Georgia’s largest hyperbaric chamber, 32 feet long and accommodating up to 12 patients at a time.

“The chance for patients with chronic, non-healing wounds to heal is greatly enhanced with hyperbaric oxygen therapy,” said Dr. Richard W. King, Jr., medical director of HyOx, a recent recipient of accreditation “with distinction” by the Undersea & Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS), hyperbaric medicine’s international standards-setting organization. “Combined with regular antibiotic treatment and wound care prescribed by the referring physician, hyperbaric medicine is an effective adjunctive treatment to help improve a patient’s clinical outcome.”

Just ask Sheila. Sheila began her daily “dives” and completed a regimen of 43 HBO2 treatments in just fewer than two months. In that time, she completely healed. A typical HBO2 treatment last two hours and typically requires an average of 30-40 treatments depending on the severity of the wound and responsiveness and compliance of the patient. After months of no significant healing progress, for Sheila, the time commitment for treatments was worth the extra effort.

Air under pressure for medicinal purposes is centuries old, yet today’s applications of the therapy are expanding beyond its traditional use of treating decompression illness (“the bends”) and carbon monoxide poisoning. Using the basic ingredient for life — oxygen — and delivering it to areas of the body with poor blood flow and infection has captured the attention of many medical specialties including endocrinology, podiatry, surgery, radiation oncology, urology, and otolaryngology. In fact, Medicare and private insurance plans recognize the medical cost savings and effectiveness of HBO2 and cover the approved conditions of the therapy.

“The HyOx team was professional, efficient and compassionate with their care,” said Sheila. “Being in the hyperbaric chamber with other patients dealing with more severe conditions like radiation damage, diabetic foot wounds and bone infections was motivating and inspiring to me. We were able to encourage one another, read or catch up on the latest movies while giving our bodies what it needed most by simply breathing oxygen under pressure.”

For more information on HBO2 therapy or HyOx Medical Treatment Center, call 678.303.3200 or visit www.hyox.com. HyOx also offers physical therapy, respiratory therapy and social services. HyOx is located at 2550 Windy Hill Road, Suite 110, Marietta, GA 30067 next to WellStar Windy Hill Hospital.

Common Conditions for Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

  • Diabetic foot wounds
  • Chronic, non-healing wounds
  • Compromised skin grafts or flaps
  • Crush injuries
  • Osteoradionecrosis
  • Soft tissue radionecrosis
  • Radiation-induced cystitis, prostatitis and proctitis
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Pre- and post-treatment for patients undergoing dental surgery of a radiated jaw (following head and neck cancer)
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Decompression illness