Introduction

Many clinical observations, strongly supported by experimental evidence in animals, have led to the conclusion that hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBO) may be used as an effective tool in stimulating repair of hypoxic and ischemic wounds. The most important effects of added oxygenation are the stimulation of fibroblast proliferation and differentiation, increased collagen formation and crosslinking, augmented neovascularization as well as stimulation of microbial killing by leukocytes. Hypoxic wounds also benefit from increased oxygen supply through improved maintenance of energy metabolism and reduction of edema.1

Oxygen is a drug, with many pharmacological effects. The mechanism by which oxygen is supplied to the tissues is via respiration of oxygen and subsequent delivery by the blood circulation. Beyond the most superficial cell layers, there is no significant topical absorption of oxygen. Therefore, for additional oxygen to be delivered to hypoxic tissues, it might be administered systematically, i.e., it must be breathed. HBO is a treatment in which a subject breaths 100% oxygen while inside a treatment chamber at an atmospheric pressure higher than that at sea level.

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