Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is a specialized treatment in which you breathe 100 percent oxygen in a pressurized space called a hyperbaric chamber. We increase the atmospheric pressure in the HBOT chamber to 2.4 times greater than normal (2.4 atmospheres).

HBOT is used to treat wounds, infections and air or gas bubbles in the blood (embolism). Breathing oxygen in this environment:

  • Increases the amount of oxygen in the blood
  • Promotes the body’s healing process by helping tiny new blood vessels form
  • Enhances the body’s infection-fighting capabilities

Why choose Henry Ford for hyperbaric oxygen therapy?

Henry Ford Health System has offered HBOT since 1988. Our doctors and technicians have exceptional experience in providing this unique therapy. You can be confident that you are receiving safe, effective treatment, because we offer:

  • Physicians with lung and hyperbaric medicine expertise: Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine is a medical specialty that requires additional fellowship training. Henry Ford’s hyperbaric program is overseen by an experienced, board-certified physician with specialized training in pulmonary (lung) physiology and hyperbaric medicine.
  • Experienced respiratory therapists: Henry Ford’s respiratory therapists have specialized training and extensive experience operating our hyperbaric chamber.
  • Safety compliance: We perform all regular upkeep and maintenance on the chamber per manufacturer guidelines. You can be assured that our HBOT chamber meets all safety standards.
  • Convenient access: Our chamber is open Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Who can Henry Ford help with hyperbaric oxygen therapy?

HBOT has many uses, because it encourages the body’s tissues to heal and regenerate. We follow treatment guidelines developed by the Undersea & Hyperbaric Medicine Society (UHMS) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These organizations have approved HBOT for:

  • Chronic wounds: HBOT commonly treats non-healing wounds, including diabetic ulcers, which may not respond to typical wound-healing therapies. If you have a wound that hasn’t healed in many weeks or even months, talk to your wound care specialist about hyperbaric oxygen treatment. Learn more about wound care.
  • Infections: HBOT can improve many types of infections, including gangrene, abscesses, soft tissue infections such as necrotizing fasciitis, and chronic bone infection/osteomyelitis (infection of bone marrow).
  • Idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss (ISSHL): HBOT can help restore this type of sudden hearing loss.
  • Late effects of radiation: Some people develop health issues or complications from radiation therapy for cancer. We use HBOT to treat:
    • Radiation or hemorrhagic cystitis (radiation-induced inflammation of the bladder)
    • Radiation proctitis or enteritis (infection or inflammation of the rectum)
    • Chronic incomplete surgical healing, which may occur in patients who receive radiation therapy to a site where they had recent surgery to remove cancerous tissue, such as with failed breast flap wounds.
    • Osteoradionecrosis (damage when a bone doesn’t heal after radiation, particularly in the jaw)
  • Prevention of osteoradionecrosis: HBOT can help avoid osteoradionecrosis in patients needing dental surgery after having radiation to the head or neck.
  • Vascular insufficiency: People with severe peripheral arterial disease (PAD) may be at risk of losing a toe, foot or leg. Hyperbarics can sometimes help limit the amount of tissue needing amputation. Learn about our PAD clinic.
  • Medical clearance for diving: We provide medical certification for people who dive for work or recreation. If you have asthma, COPD or any lung condition, make an appointment to get medical clearance before diving.

What to expect from hyperbaric oxygen therapy

You will undergo a specialized medical consultation and clearance to start hyperbaric therapy. A typical course of HBOT is 20 to 30 treatments or more if indicated. Each treatment takes about two hours. Most people receive HBOT every day, Monday through Friday, for four to six weeks. If you are receiving HBOT for wound care, you will still need to continue visits with the wound clinic to manage your wounds.

  • What happens during hyperbaric oxygen therapy?

    We provide HBOT to one person at a time. During the treatment, you can watch television, listen to music, read a book or simply rest. During your sessions, you will:

    1. Change out of street clothes into cotton scrubs
    2. Set aside all electronic and flammable items. You cannot bring any devices — including lighters, phones, iPads or computers — into the hyperbaric chamber, as they may be damaged in the chamber.
    3. Wear a lightweight, clear hood while you sit in a clear chamber inside a larger room. You’ll breathe 100 percent oxygen through the hood, while we pressurize the chamber.
    4. Be able to talk through an intercom system to the hyperbaric chamber operator, who will be beside the chamber at all times. Except for emergencies, you will remain in the chamber throughout your entire session (about two hours).
  • What are the risks of hyperbaric oxygen therapy?
    • Claustrophobia: Some people feel anxious in the pressurized chamber. To lessen claustrophobia, we provide HBOT in a clear chamber inside a larger room.
    • Eye problems: Many people may experience reversible vision changes because of HBOT. The eye changes shape temporarily because of the oxygen exposure, which can make your vision worse. After completion of your treatment, the eye goes back to its usual shape.
    • Ear problems: HBOT pressurization feels similar to when your ears “pop” when an airplane takes off or lands. Some people can’t equalize their ears in the pressurized chamber and may require tympanostomy tubes (ear tubes) so they can tolerate HBOT.
    • Sinus issues: Some people feel a sinus “squeeze” as a result of nasal congestion during HBOT. Your doctor may recommend an antihistamine medication to relieve sinus congestion.
    • Seizure risk: 1 in 3,000 people may experience a seizure. These seizures usually do not recur, and people can continue treatment.
    • Lung problems: Some people with lung conditions such as asthma, COPD, or bullous lung disease may be at increased risk of pneumothorax (lung collapse). This occurs only rarely, but if it does, it may be life-threatening.
    • Fire hazard: We are very careful to avoid the risk of fire, but fire is always a danger when using pure oxygen.
  • Who should not receive hyperbaric oxygen therapy?

    The increased pressure can make HBOT dangerous if you have severe lung conditions. We require a doctor’s referral before providing HBOT. We evaluate all patients to make sure they are good candidates for HBOT.

  • Locations for hyperbaric oxygen therapy

    For hyperbaric oxygen therapy at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, call the Hyperbaric Center at (313) 916-3929 and leave a message.

    For hyperbaric oxygen therapy at Henry Ford Macomb Center for Wound Care at (586) 421-3080.

  • How can I start hyperbaric oxygen therapy at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit?

    We evaluate you to make sure HBOT will be safe for you. Approval for HBOT may take up to one to two weeks for insurance authorization after the initial HBOT consultation. You will need to:

    1. Get a referral for HBOT from your physician (any physician can refer to HBOT).
    2. Call the Hyperbaric Center at (313) 916-3929 to arrange a consultation.
    3. Meet with Jose Evangelista, M.D., to discuss the risks and benefits and conduct any needed tests. You may need X-rays, a pulmonary function test or CT scan of your chest.
    4. Provide insurance information. In Michigan, you need prior approval before starting treatments.
  • How can I start hyperbaric oxygen therapy at Henry Ford Macomb Hospital?

    We evaluate you to make sure HBOT will be safe for you. This process can take up to two weeks. You will need to:

    1. Get a referral for HBOT from your wound clinic or physician. If you would like to be seen at a Henry Ford Wound Care Center, please call (586) 421-3080.
    2. Call the Henry Ford Macomb Hospital Wound Care and Hyperbaric Center at (586) 421-3080 to arrange consultation for HBOT.
    3. Meet with our physician to discuss the risks and benefits and conduct any needed tests.
    4. Provide insurance information. In Michigan, you need prior approval before starting treatments. 
  • How can I start hyperbaric oxygen therapy at Henry Ford Allegiance Health?
    1. Speak with your Primary Care Provider or Specialist to have them submit a referral for HBOT (Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy)
    2. Once a referral is placed, our staff will call you to arrange consultation at the Henry Ford Allegiance Wound Care Center
    3. During Consultation, our Medical Director will meet with you to create a personalized treatment plan
    4. Prior Authorization will be obtained for this treatment and may take up to two weeks.  Our staff will follow up with you once authorization is obtained and schedule your treatment.
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