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Hyperbaric chamber

Hyperbaric chamber reduces complications from chronic wounds.

You know you need oxygen to survive, but did you know it can also heal chronic wounds? Experts at Piedmont Healthcare are using hyperbaric chambers, which are special oxygen delivery systems, to increase patients' tissue oxygenation to help chronic wounds heal. Rob Miller, M.D., director of Piedmont Hospital Wound Care and Hyperbaric Center, uses the science of a pressurized bottle of soda to describe how the chamber works.

“There is carbon dioxide above the fizz inside the bottle. When you open the bottle and release the pressure pushing that carbon dioxide down in the liquid, bubbles start forming. We’re kind of doing the opposite. We’re increasing pressure  of oxygen on top of you – a body of liquid – and forcing oxygen to be dissolved within you. Therefore, the oxygen goes through your tissues by simple diffusion and is not limited by where red blood cells can go.”

Most chronic wounds have issues with oxygen reaching the tissue. Humans require oxygen to breathe and heal. And if tissues are not getting enough oxygen, those cells are not getting the energy they need to help the body to heal, Dr. Miller says.

Most patients need a series of hyperbaric oxygen treatments. They come to the center Monday through Friday for 90 minutes at a time on average for eight weeks. Patients feel no discomfort in the chamber. “It’s like when you’re in an airplane,” Dr. Miller says. “Sometimes a patient’s ears will pop, so we teach them how to clear their ears. As the pressure increases, they might feel a little warmer, and when the pressure decreases, they might  feel a little cooler. But other than that, they really don’t experience the changes in pressure.”

Patients with diabetes  or peripheral vascular disease who have a problem with oxygen delivery can benefit from hyperbaric oxygen therapy if they’re the appropriate candidates. They still must have enough tissue  perfusion to get the oxygen close to the area. “We can increase the oxygen to those patients and potentially save toes, fingers, legs and feet – and we’ve done so,” Dr. Miller says.

Piedmont has five Wound Care & Hyperbaric Centers:

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