Hyperbaric medicine, also known as hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), is the medical use of oxygen at pressure levels higher than atmospheric pressure. HBOT requires a pressure chamber, which may be of rigid or flexible construction, and a means of delivering 100% oxygen. Treatments typically involve having the patient breathe high-pressure oxygen according to a Operation is performed to a predetermined schedule. Trained personnel monitor the patient and adjust the schedule as required.
HBOT found early use in the treatment of decompression sickness, and has also shown great effectiveness in treating conditions such as gas gangrene and carbon monoxide poisoning. More recent research has examined the possibility that it may also have value for other conditions such as cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis, but no significant evidence has been found.
Initially, HBOT was developed as a treatment for diving disorders such as decompression sickness and gas embolism caused by gas bubbles in the tissues. The chamber cures decompression sickness and gas embolism by increasing pressure, reducing the size of the gas bubbles and improving the transport of blood to downstream tissues. The high concentrations of oxygen in the tissues keep oxygen-starved tissues alive, and have the effect of removing the nitrogen from the bubble, making it smaller until it consists only of oxygen, which is re-absorbed into the body. After elimination of bubbles, the pressure is gradually reduced back to atmospheric levels.