Which Organisations Oversee Hyperbaric Medicine?

Two major bodies in the northern hemisphere review the evidence and make recommendations regarding appropriate medical conditions for which hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) may be used. These bodies are the European Committee for Hyperbaric Medicine (ECHM) and the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS)

British Hyperbaric Association chambers generally follow these recommendations. If you suffer from one of the conditions listed and would like to be referred then please speak to your consultant.

Please remember that the evidence demonstrating that HBO is effective is generally for pressures above 2.0 ata (ie breathing 100% O2 at a chamber depth exceeding 10m). This does not include the use of “Mild” HBO, for which little evidence exists and the BHA does not recommend.

Who might benefit from HBO?

There is evidence suggesting that some patients with the following may benefit from HBO:

  • Air or gas embolism
  • Gas gangrene
  • Crush injury
  • Compartment syndrome
  • Acute peripheral ischemia
  • Decompression sickness
  • Enhanced healing in selected problem wounds
  • Exceptional blood loss anaemia
  • Necrotizing soft tissue infections
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Delayed radiation injury (soft tissue and bony necrosis)
  • Compromised skin grafts and flaps
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning

Are there any potential risks?

Like many medical treatments there are potential risks from treatment with Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. However, if performed according to best practice these risks are very low. However risks can include:

  • Middle ear injuries due to changes in air pressure (middle ear barotrauma).
  • Temporary nearsightedness (you may need a change in your glasses prescription) caused by temporary eye lens changes.
  • Lung collapse caused by pressure changes (pulmonary barotrauma).
  • Seizures from too much oxygen (oxygen toxicity seizures)
  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia) in people who have diabetes treated with insulin