Principles of Hyperbaric Oxygenation Treatment

The hyperbaric chamber is a closed container where thepacient is subjected to a pressure greater than atmospheric pressure. It was popularized in the first half of the twentieth century for its success in treating the disease of diving, sometimes fatal.

It was not until the second half of the century that it began to be used in different pathologies: gas gangrene, carbon monoxide poisoning, radiation necrosis, burns, diabetic foot and severe trauma. Currently it is applied in the treatment of cerebral palsy, autism, multiple sclerosis and as a complement to oncological treatment.

In the book Science, not miracle, Dr. Nina Subbotina describes treatments endorsed by “evidence-based medicine”, a practice that requires the integration of individual clinical data with the best evidence derived from systematic research. The treatments described in this title reflect the current state of knowledge in the specialty. The physical and biological principle on which the hyperbaric chamber is based is simple and solid.

The main function of the circulatory system is to carry to each cell of the organism, through the blood, the oxygen absorbed in the lungs. The hyperbaric chamber allows oxygen to be carried in greater quantities. It does so by taking advantage of a physical law: gases dissolve in a greater proportion in a liquid if they are under pressure. The liquid is blood or plasma; the gas to dissolve is the oxygen that is breathed inside the chamber, directly or through a mask. The highest pressure is achieved by pumping to the sealed chamber oxygen or air. The cells suffocated by the lack of oxygen, usually due to circulatory problems, recover.

In countries such as the United States, the hyperbaric chamber is officially recognized for air or gas embolism; carbon monoxide poisoning; carbon monoxide poisoning complicated by cyanide; gas gangrene (clostridial myonecrosis); crush trauma, compartment syndrome and other acute ischemia; decompression sickness; healing of refractory wounds; exceptional anemia, intracranial abscess; soft tissue necrotizing infections; osteomyelitis (refractory); radiation necrosis; grafts and flaps at risk and thermal burns.

Hyperbaric medicine has a well-earned space in modern medicine, as demonstrated by more than 8,000 hyperbaric chambers in the world, dozens of professional organizations in the specialty, and profusion of research, books and scientific articles on the subject. More important: countless people who have benefited from this non-invasive or painful treatment.


Subbotina, N. 2013. Science, not miracle.

Comments are closed.