Hyperbaric Medicine

What is hyperbaric oxygenation (HBOT) treatment?

The TOHB consists of breathing 100% oxygen (O2), inside a pressurized chamber above normal atmospheric pressure (at sea level, 1.0 absolute atmosphere or ATA). For clinical use, the pressure should be at least 1.4 ATA. HBO is used as a primary therapy, in some pathologies and intoxications, or as adjuvant therapy in pathologies that occur with inadequate supply of oxygen to tissues.

Hyperbaric chambers are medical devices where HBOT is performed safely and non-invasively, delivering high concentrations of oxygen to the patient by means of an inhaler in a pressurized environment. To understand the operation of this therapy, it is necessary to remember the main function of the breathing: to enter oxygen to the organism, to be distributed by the circulatory system to all the organs and tissues.

The physical-chemical basis of therapy is essentially based on two physical laws that describe the behavior of gases. On the one hand, Dalton’s Law states that at constant temperature the pressure of a mixture of gases is equal to the sum of the partial pressures (Pp) of each of the gases that compose it.

Therefore, by administering 100% O2 at 1.4 ATA pressure, a P2 of O2 in the body is obtained many times higher than under normal conditions (breathing normal air, 21% O2 at 1.0 ATA). On the other hand, Henry’s law states that gases dissolve in liquids when subjected to pressure: it implies that O2 administered in a pressurized environment dissolves or distributes in the plasma and liquids with which the gas is in contact.

This effect takes place once the amount of Inhaled O2 increases, which generates a local pressure gradient in the alveolus, favoring the diffusion of the oxygen towards the plasma. In addition, this mechanism is independent from the transport of O2 attached to the hemoglobin (Hb), which under physiological conditions is almost totally saturated (~ 97%). This allows to assure the arrival of O2 to the tissues, not counting the contribution of O2 attached to the Hb: when there is an obstruction to the perfusion and flow of circulating red blood cells (edema, inflammation) and in anemic patients. In this way, most of the O2 is dissolved in the plasma and a high concentration of circulating O2 is reached, also available to diffuse and penetrate the interior of tissues and cells.

Mechanisms that favor or stimulate the HBOT:

  • Vasoconstriction
  • Angiogenesis
  • Osteogenesis
  • Cellular immune response to infections
  • Collagen Synthesis
  • Anti-inflammation and edema reduction
  • Cell proliferation and differentiation
  • Wound healing
  • Neuroprotection