Hyperbaric Medicine

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Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a medical treatment that grew from the experience gained by treating deep-sea divers who developed the bends. The purpose of this therapy is to increase the amount of oxygen in your tissues in a way that no other treatment can. During the treatment, you breathe 100% oxygen while the air pressure around you is slowly increased to two or three times normal pressure. This increases the oxygen in your blood up to 15 times normal.

Increased oxygen in the blood promotes new tissue growth and assists the healing process. For example, when a wound does not heal because it does not have enough blood supply, hyperbaric oxygen can increase blood vessel growth into the wound, and permit healing. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is not designed to replace other proven methods of treatment. It is used as a supplement to other forms of treatment such as surgery, antibiotics and wound healing services.

The Hyperbaric Chamber

The hyperbaric chamber is a large steel cylinder in which the air can be compressed to a pressure greater than normal. The chamber is designed with comfortable chairs and windows so that you can see out. Patients can read books or magazines, watch television or listen to music during their treatment. Trained medical personnel are present at all times to answer questions, assist patients and provide medical aid if necessary. Our staff of expert physicians is present at all times to ensure safe, effective treatment.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatments

Each treatment consists of three 30-minute oxygen periods separated by five-minute air breaks. Depending on the type and severity of the case, the number of treatments could range from one to 60. Treatments are completely painless and carry a very low risk of complication. Similar to traveling in an airplane, patients may feel the pressure change in their ears, which can typically be remedied by moving the jaw or swallowing.


The Center for Hyperbaric Medicine is associated with UCSD Medical Center, which has ongoing clinical research in the ethical use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Patients at the Center will have the opportunity to participate in these studies if they wish. Our goal is to provide our patients with the highest quality and most advanced medical care available.

Approved Uses

  • Selected, problem wounds
  • Chronic bone infections (osteomyelitis)
  • Radiation tissue damage (osteoradionecrosis and soft-tissue radionecrosis)
  • Non-healing skin grafts/flaps
  • Crush injury/compartment syndrome
  • Burns
  • Selected soft-tissue infections (necrotizing fasciitis)
  • Gas gangrene
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Decompression sickness
  • Air embolism
  • Exceptional blood loss

For more information on wound healing, click here.