Three Argentinian public hospitals incorporate a Hyperbaric Chamber in the treatment of patients with COVID-19

July 8, 2020

The Muñiz Hospital, The Santojanni Hospital and The Central of San Isidro Hospital will carry out a protocol to study if Hyperbaric Treatment reduces recovery times in patients infected with COVID-19 and how it would impact the need for respirators.

Since June, the Muñiz Hospital, the Santojanni Hospital and the Central Hospital of San Isidro have Hyperbaric Medicine units in which they will develop a clinical trial to analyze whether the incorporation of the Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy significantly decreases the progression of hypoxemia (low blood oxygen level), respiratory disease, the requirement for respirators, and recovery times in patients infected with COVID-19.

The protocol will be developed with Revitalair® 430 Hyperbaric Chambers that were donated by BioBarica. The main researchers are Doctors Eleonora Cunto (Hospital Muñiz), Guillermo Keller (Hospital Santojanni) and Ramiro Larrea (Hospital Central de San Isidro). The clinical trial has the endorsement of the Argentine Association of Hyperbaric Medicine and Research (AAMHEI) and the coordination of its president, Dr. Mariana Cannellotto.

So far, there have not been reported cases of COVID-19 treated with hyperbaric oxygenation in Argentina, so this protocol sets an important precedent in research on possible treatments for the disease.

It should be noted that Hyperbaric Therapy has approved indications for different pathologies that are frequently consulted in public health, such as complicated infections, complex wounds, neurological rehabilitation, and treatment of chronic pain. In addition, it is an adjunctive treatment in reconstructive surgeries, since it favors healing and accelerates recovery times. For this reason, it will be of great benefit for the care of patients during and after the pandemic.

The three hospitals join the Quemados Arturo U. Ilia Hospital and the Ramos Mejía Hospital, which have Hyperbaric Chambers since 2018 and 2019 respectively and have obtained excellent results in wounds, burns and radio lesions.

What is Hyperbaric Treatment and how would it help COVID-19 patients?

Hyperbaric Treatment consists of breathing high concentrations of oxygen within a pressurized chamber. This generates hyperoxia that increases the volume of dissolved oxygen in the blood plasma. Greatest diffusion of oxygen reaches all tissues, including those affected, and a series of therapeutic physiological effects is triggered.

Hyperbaric Therapy produces an increase in pulmonary oxygenation and improves the immune response. Given the COVID-19 pandemic, it could be used in infected patients with respiratory hypoxemic failure who do not have pulmonary contraindications. It can help to recover the acute hypoxic (oxygen-free) phase of the disease, decrease the inflammatory phase, promote recovery and speed up the times for the release of hospital beds.

The experience in China

During the first quarter of the year, in a hospital in Wuhan, Dr. Zhong Xiaoling treated 5 patients infected with COVID-19 in the Hyperbaric Chamber. After the first session, he reported that dyspnea and chest pain were reduced. After the second, the respiratory rate decreased and the difficulty in breathing was alleviated. Starting on the fifth day, arterial oxygen values ​​were recovered. Lung improvement was evident and CT scans showed lower levels of inflammation.