St. David’s Medical Center offers Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) for the treatment of problematic wounds, which benefit from the high-intensity oxygenation this therapy provides. HBOT is also used to treat the effects of radiation, poorly healing skin flaps and grafts, infected bone, decompression sickness and variety of other illnesses.
St. David’s HealthCare is most experienced provider of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy in Central Texas, providing exceptional care to patients since 1987. Our hyperbaric physicians have more than 30 years of combined experience, including Central Texas’ only board certified physician in hyperbaric medicine.
Wound healing is a complex process. One of its key requirements is oxygen. Healing tissue can require twenty times more oxygen than healthy tissue. In some patients, a lack of oxygen in the injured tissue, known as ischemia or hypoxia, prevents the body from healing efficiently. This can also provide an opening for infectious organisms, further delaying or preventing the healing process.
As part of a comprehensive wound treatment approach, HBOT is a safe, effective method of providing the necessary oxygen for healing in patients with chronic wounds. HBOT promotes vascular formation, facilitates the action of the body’s healing cells, and has also been shown to inhibit the growth of infectious bacteria.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is a medical treatment used to treat wounds that are not healing properly. HBOT is administered in a specialized chamber where the pressure is increased to two or three times normal atmospheric pressure while the patient breathes 100 percent pure oxygen. This treatment increases oxygen levels in the blood and tissue fluids, producing a healing effect when disease processes decrease tissue oxygen levels. Physicians usually refer patients to the program to treat non-healing wounds, such as diabetic ulcers or problems with wound healing after surgery or radiation therapy.
Hyperbaric treatments are painless. Patients may experience a sensation of fullness in the ears, similar to the feeling when driving down a mountain, flying or skin diving. This feeling occurs as the eardrums respond to changes in air pressure. The hyperbaric medical technician will show the patient how to relieve this fullness to decrease discomfort during the treatment. Although many people have some feelings of anxiety, the hyperbaric staff will work with the patient to make treatments as relaxing as possible.
Once in the chamber with the door closed, patients will hear the oxygen as it begins to circulate. As pressure within the chamber increases, patients may notice a mild temporary warmth. A hyperbaric medical technician will remain with patients to adjust the rate of compression according to tolerance and will coach them on relieving the fullness in the ears. The compression phase of the treatment generally lasts 10-15 minutes, depending on how effective patients are in clearing their ears.
When the prescribed pressure has been reached, the re-occurring fullness in the ears will cease. Patients may watch television, rest or sleep during the remainder of the treatment, which usually lasts about 1 ½ hours. Near the end of the treatment, the hyperbaric medical technician will gradually decrease the pressure to a normal level over a 15-20 minute period, depending on the treatment protocol. During decompression, patients may experience a popping sensation in the ears as a result of the decreasing pressure. This is a normal adjustment in the ears, similar to what happens when driving up a mountain or taking off in an airplane.
Generally, patients experience no after affects from HBOT. With all medical procedures and treatments, there may be some side effects that could result from exposure to hyperbaric oxygen. These are rare, but they will be discussed in detail before the consent-for-treatment form is signed.
Special Instructions for HBOT
Please review the following important information regarding Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT):
Some medications are not compatible with HBOT. The hyperbaric physician will discuss this with the patient prior to treatment.
Cold or Other Symptoms
It is important to tell the hyperbaric technician if the patient has symptoms of a cold or flu (for example, fever, cough, sore throat, diarrhea, etc.) These types of illnesses are not improved by oxygen, so the HBOT may need to be postponed until the patient has been cleared by the St. David’s HealthCare hyperbaric physician.
Nicotine is another substance that is incompatible with HBOT. Once hyperbaric pressure has been prescribed for the patient, smoking should be stopped until the therapy is completed. This no-smoking rule applies to cigarettes, pipe tobacco and cigars, as well as snuff and chewing tobacco.
Safety Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy at St. David’s Medical Center features:
Petroleum-based cosmetics including make up, deodorants, nail polish, hairspray and aftershave are not permitted in the chamber. The patient will be provided with a 100 percent cotton gown or “scrub suit” during treatment. No clothing or accessory containing nylon, polyester or Velcro will be worn in the chamber. Watches and other jewelry must be removed. Dentures, contact lenses, hearing aids and other prosthetic devices may need to be removed before treatment. Check with the hyperbaric technician regarding these requirements.
- Professionally trained staff in hyperbaric medicine
- The two largest single patient hyperbaric chambers in Central Texas
- Four HBOT chambers for patient scheduling flexibility
- Close coordination with referring physicians and specialists
- Convenient Central Austin location
- Entertainment options during therapy including television, videos/DVDs and music
- Free parking and handicap accessible
The goal of St. David's Medical Center's Lymphedema Program is to improve patients' quality of life and reduce complications that can result from this condition.
Lymphedema occurs when the lymphatic system is compromised, resulting in the accumulation of lymphatic fluids in tissue, most often in the arms and legs. This condition can occur after cancer surgery, radiation therapy, trauma or infection; hereditary factors may also play a role. Lymphedema can be painful, result in a loss of mobility, and cause other complications.
Individualized care for each patient may include lymph drainage, compression bandaging, remedial exercises, support garments, and home management training with proper skin care, exercise and diet instructions. The Lymphedema Program at St. David's Medical Center features:
- Advanced imaging services to evaluate lymphatic function
- Individualized treatment protocols using the latest physiotherapeutic techniques.
- Comprehensive decongestive therapy incorporating manual drainage, compression, exercise, skin care and patient education
- Surgical treatment when medically indicated
Wound Care Services
section to learn more about all services offered at all St. David's HealthCare locations. Get helpful resources related to this, including access to our health library and news, classes & events.