Hyperbaric medicine is the use of oxygen in a hyperbaric environment, which means in conditions where air pressure in the atmosphere is higher than that at sea level. This type of treatment was initially used in clinical cases where decompression was necessary, but today it is applied in various other situations, such as in cases of infections, healing of wounds, ischemic or oedematous processes.
The first therapeutic use of respiratory oxygen dates back to the 18th century, although it was only in the 20th century, after proven scientific results, that it was introduced in clinical practice. Many clinical trials were necessary before it was understood that inhaled oxygen, in its pure state, in a hyperbaric environment, has the same effect as various multipurpose drugs: anti-ischemic, anti-hypoxic, anti-oedematous, pro-healing and anti-infective in this case as an antibiotic.
Hyperbaric medicine is the study and the treatment of various diseases that can improve by being exposed to high environmental pressure as well as exposure to molecular oxygen, therefore combining hyperbaric air pressure and hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
The first relates to the inhalation of air and hyper oxygenated gases administered at a higher pressure (usually 2 to 3 times) than the atmospheric pressure at sea level. The second is a type of treatment based on inhalation of pure oxygen in a hyperbaric environment.
This method of inhalation produces an increased partial pressure of oxygen in the alveolus, which are then responsible for the diffusion of the gas molecules in the lungs and therefore to the rest of the blood circulation.
There are various clinical conditions where hyperbaric oxygen therapy (OHT) has been proven successful according to the European Committee for Hyperbaric Medicine. South of Lisbon it is only possible to undergo this treatment in the Alvor Hospital. For critical cases, the chamber is equipped with a ventilator and vital signs monitoring system, similar to those found in any intensive care unit but designed to be used in a hyperbaric context. With our patient’s comfort in mind, the chamber has a heating and air conditioning system. To make sure that the treatment is a pleasant experience, a home entertainment, radio and video system has been installed in the chamber.
The following lists show the various recommendations where this treatment is applied.
Recommendations Level I – Strongly Recommended (of critical importance for the prognosis)
▪ Carbon monoxide poisoning
▪ Severe polytraumatism
▪ Osteoradionecrosis prevention after tooth extraction
▪ Osteoradionecrosis (mandibular)
▪ Soft tissue radionecrosis
▪ Decompression accidents (diving)
▪ Bacterial infections
Recommendations Level I – Recommended (positive effect on the prognosis)
▪ Diabetic foot lesions
▪ Skin or muscle grafts
▪ Osteoradionecrosis (other bones other than mandibular)
▪ Proctitis/Enteritis after radiotherapy
▪ Soft tissue lesions after radiotherapy
▪ Surgery or implants after radiotherapy (preventative action)
▪ Sudden deafness
▪ Ischemic ulcers
▪ Chronic refractory osteomyelitis
▪ Stage IV neuroblastoma
Recommendations Level II – Optional (implementation is considered an option)
▪ Post-anoxic encephalopathy
▪ Laryngeal radionecrosis
▪ Lesion of the central nervous system after radiotherapy
▪ Reperfusion after post vascular surgery
▪ After limb replantation
▪ 2nd degree burns in over 20% of the body surface
▪ Acute ischemic ophthalmic diseases
▪ Difficult wound healing after an infection or inflammatory process
▪ Pneumatosis intestinal cystic cavities.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is available only at the Alvor Hospital. For evaluation appointments contact Hospital Particular do Algarve.
Tel 707 282 828.