patient in hyperbaric oxygen chamber

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) can improve blood circulation and your blood’s ability to deliver oxygen to the body, treating many health problems, including:

  • Diabetic wounds
  • Chronic refractory osteomyelitis
  • Radiation therapy injuries following cancer treatment
  • Compromised skin grafts or flaps
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning

How Does HBOT Work?

HBOT involves breathing 100% oxygen in a sealed chamber. The chamber concentrates oxygen five times higher than the normal air we breathe, with a pressure of 1.5-3 times normal atmospheric pressure.

Does HBOT Have Side Effects?

Mild side effects include:

  • Mild ear pressure, relieved by swallowing
  • Nearsightedness (myopia), which can last for two weeks

You won’t have any pain. Your ears may feel full.

The Procedure

You’ll lie down on a padded table that slides into a single-person chamber. We'll gradually pressurize the chamber with 100% oxygen. While in the chamber:

  • Relax and breathe normally; you can talk to the nurse if you need to.
  • We will show you ear-clearing techniques (like swallowing and yawning) before your treatment. If you have pain or pressure in your ears during your session, tell the nurse, who can adjust chamber pressure.
  • If you’re at high risk for seizure activity, you will take air breaks every half hour. 
  • The nurse will slowly depressurize the chamber. You may have some ear popping.

What To Expect

Your treatment plan can involve 10-40 sessions over 2-6 weeks, depending on your diagnosis. 

Each session takes 90 minutes, but plan on 2 hours, start to finish.

How Will HBOT Affect Me?

On the day of your treatment: 

  • Take any medications you have as usual. 
  • You can have a light meal. 
  • Don’t drink carbonated beverages or smoke.

You should be able to go back to your daily activities after your treatment. In most cases, there isn’t special care after treatment. Call your doctor if you have any discomfort or pain in your sinuses or ears.

West Complex main entrance

UVA's Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment Center

Our Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment Center offers hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which delivers oxygen to the body using a pressurized chamber, and transcutaneous oximetry, a non-invasive way of measuring oxygen tension in the body.

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