Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy involves breathing 100 percent oxygen at an elevated ambient pressure – ordinarily the air we breathe contains only 21 percent oxygen at a pressure of one atmosphere (barometric pressure at sea level).
By breathing 100 percent oxygen at elevated pressure (2.0 to 3.0 atmospheres), 20 times more oxygen travels through the body's bloodstream to injured organs and tissue, causing accelerated healing and other beneficial effects. Penn's hyperbaric medicine physicians work together with a patient's referring physician to determine the best treatment plan possible.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is used to treat tissue damage caused by many chronic, non-healing conditions such as:
- Radiation injury (caused by radiation therapy)
- Bone infection
- Skin wounds
- Compromised skin flaps and grafts
- Diabetic foot and leg wounds
Medicare recognizes hyperbaric oxygen therapy as appropriate treatment for 14 conditions.
Penn Wound Care CenterEach year, six million people in the United States seek treatment for an acute or chronic wound. Penn Hyperbaric Medicine works closely with the Penn Wound Care Center as part of an overall treatment plan to provide patients with the most advanced wound treatment and therapies available.
Emergency TherapyThe hyperbaric medicine team at Penn also provides emergency care for:
- Decompression sickness (the Bends)
- Gas embolism (bubbles in the bloodstream)
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Cyanide poisoning
- Gas gangrene
- Necrotizing fasciitis (flesh-eating bacterial infection)
- Crush injuries
Emergency therapy is available 24 hours a day, year round. A responsive on-call system coordinates communication between the division of hyperbaric medicine and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania's emergency response teams, including PennSTAR. PennSTAR is Penn's helicopter emergency transport, providing urgent care access across five states (PA, DE, MD, NJ and NY).