Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBO) is a medical treatment given in a comfortable, climate-controlled, see-through chamber. “Hyperbaric” means “higher than the normal atmospheric pressure.” Most treatments are given at two to three times normal pressure. Normally, oxygen is 21% of the air we breathe. In the HBO chamber, the air is 100% oxygen. The combination of increased pressure and 100% oxygen significantly increases the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream which may provide the following benefits:

  • Preservation of injured tissue
  • Improved delivery of oxygen to injured tissue
  • Improved wound healing
  • Improved control of certain infections
  • Improved growth of new blood vessels

What to Expect

  • Treatments are daily, 5 days per week with each treatment lasting approximately 2 hours
  • Music and television are available in the chamber.
  • The sensation while in the chamber is similar to flying or driving in the mountains. Your ears will start to pop as the pressure is
  • increased and decreased at the beginning and end of the treatment.
  • Once you are at the set pressure you can relax comfortably.
  • A certified hyperbaric technologist, nurse and/or physician are on hand at all times during treatments.

Information for referring doctors

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBO) is offered at 2 locations in Greenville Health System. Both locations offer outpatient treatments and the hospital serves the inpatients as well.

John Kudlak, D.O., Medical Director of Hyperbaric Services at Greenville Memorial Hospital
Greenville Memorial Hospital
701 Grove Road, Greenville, SC, 29605
(864) 455-8432

Thomas L. Oliver, MD, CWSP, Medical Director of the Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Oxygen Center
Vascular Health Alliance/Patewood Campus
200 Patewood Drive Building C Third floor
Greenville, SC, 29615
(864) 454-2852

Patient consultation and referral procedure

Consultation is provided by the GHS physicians trained in hyperbaric medicine through approved courses of the AMA/Undersea Medical Society. Patients will be screened for appropriateness and contraindications as well as insurance coverage.

  • For Greenville Memorial Hospital call (864) 455-8432 Hours 7am to 5pm
  • For Patewood campus call (864) 454-2852 Hours 7:30am to 5pm
  • For emergencies, after hours and holidays call (864) 238-9829 or (864) 546-1642

Emergency conditions include:

  • Acute carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Gas/air embolism
  • Gas gangrene
  • Cyanide poisoning
  • Necrotizing fasciitis
  • Crush injuries, compartment syndrome, and other acute traumatic ischemia

Other conditions that may benefit from HBO and typically covered by insurances include:

  • Enhancement of healing in select problem wounds
  • Osteomyelitis (refractory)
  • Radiation tissue damage (osteoradionecrosis)
  • Skin grafts and flaps (preparation and preservation)
  • Diabetic foot wounds ( Wagner III and IV)
  • Sudden acute hearing loss
  • Actinonycosis
  • Acute peripheral arterial insufficiency after arterial repair

Physiologic Effects of Hyperbaric oxygen

The main therapeutic value of hyperbaric oxygen lies in increasing the tissue partial pressure of oxygen. An arterial pressure of 1800mm of mercury is possible when the patient breathes 100% oxygen at 2.5 Atmospheres Absolute (ATA).

  • The resulting improvement in oxygen diffusion distance from functioning capillaries in a hypo-perfused wound restores tissue oxygen tensions to appropriate levels. This effect has been confirmed by polarographic oxygen electrode measurements.
  • Elevation of wound oxygen tension promotes fibroblast division and collagen production to provide support for capillary proliferation.
  • HBO helps to prepare a rich vascular bed for skin grafting in certain diabetic ulcers and other wounds with reasonable regional perfusion.
  • Increased oxygen tensions enhance leukocyte responses in the treatment of chronic refractory osteomyelitis.
  • Hyperbaric oxygen induced vasoconstriction has been beneficial in injuries that produce tissue edema, such as crush injuries or compartment syndrome.
  • Oxygen is toxic to certain anaerobic bacteria and enhances the activity of certain antibiotics. Cessation of toxin production by clostridial organisms in gas gangrene has been demonstrated.
  • HBO results in rapid dissociation of carbon monoxide molecules from hemoglobin and provides sufficient quantities of physically dissolved oxygen to hypotoxic tissues in carbon monoxide poisoning. The mechanical effect of HBO results in decreasing the size of inert gas bubbles which makes this therapy the primary mode of treatment for decompression sickness and acute gas embolism.