HBO2 Program


Conditions that have been effectively treated with hyperbaric oxygen include:

  • Acute carbon monoxide poisoning and cyanide poisoning
  • Chronic osteomyelitis (refractory)
  • Crush injury, compartment syndrome and other acute traumatic ischemias, including limb reattachments
  • Decompression sickness (The Bends)
  • Air embolism
  • Exceptional blood loss (anemia)
  • Gas gangrene
  • Healing of select problem wounds
  • Necrotizing soft tissue infections (such as "flesh-eating bacteria")
  • Osteoradionecrosis
  • Radiation soft tissue damage--skin, larynx, bowel, bladder, others
  • Skin grafts and flaps (compromised)
  • Thermal burns
  • Diabetic Foot (Wagner grade 3 to 5)


In addition to its effectiveness in treating dysbaric disorders such as gas embolism and decompression sickness, hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been proven effective in facilitating healing in some chronic and nonhealing wounds.  HBO2 helps restore oxygen tensions to normal or above-normal levels, stimulating fibroblasts, osteoblasts, osteoclasts and granulocytes needed in wound healing.

UCLA's multiplace hyperbaric chamber is capable of simultaneously seating 18 patients for administering oxygen under pressure in a carefully controlled manner. 

Patients are considered for HBO2 on referral from their primary physician or surgeon.  Each patient - whether inpatient, outpatient or emergency - will be evaluated by the hyperbaric physician.  Patients remain under the care of the primary physician during the period of hyperbaric therapy.

Successful care of problem wounds requires an integrated approach using HBO2 as an adjunct to appropriate surgery, antibiotics, physical therapy and other medical care.  HBO therapy involves treating patients in a Hyperbaric chamber.  The air inside the chamber is slowly pressurized and patients breath 100% oxygen through a mask, hood or ventilator.  Breathing 100% oxygen under increased atmospheric pressure, elevates the patients arterial O2 pressure to levels of 1100-2000mmHg, causing an increased oxygen diffusion from capillaries and activation of various tissue growth factors resulting in new capillary blood vessel growth.  The deleterious effects of tissue hypoxia are reduced allowing new tissue to grow.  Other physiologic effects of Hyperbaric oxygen therapy include restoring the bacterial killing power of neutrophils, which are very dependent on oxygen to function. Elevated tissue oxygenation also promotes fibroblast growth and therefore collagen production, which is the framework of granulation tissue.  Elevation of tissue O2 tensions blocks the production of alpha toxin associated with clostridial infections, and also speeds the elimination of carbon monoxide from the body.

Hyperbaric oxygen greatly reduces the size of gas bubbles in tissues and the circulation which helps restore arterial circulation in patients with acute gas embolism or decompression sickness.