The results of a collective study specifying the viability of hyperbaric therapy for osteomyelitis treatment were published recently in Orthopedics, a leading bi-monthly medical journal, that has been in circulation for 40 years.

During this research, the team collated 45 case-files of 460 chronic osteomyelitis patients that included animal studies, retrospective, and prospective cohort studies, from 1971 to 2017.

The observations revealed that almost 80-95% of patients in the study group were administered hyperbaric therapy as an adjunctive treatment coupled with surgical intervention or antibiotics.

The team also noticed that 73.5% of the 419 patients that adapted hyperbaric therapy as part of their recovery regimen, showed no signs of relapse. The successful outcome of these studies proved that hyperbaric therapy was indeed an ideal treatment method to counter chronic osteomyelitis.

What is Osteomyelitis?

Osteomyelitis is a bone infection that can have serious health implications if the patient neglects the condition or delays treatment. The chance of the infection spreading through the bloodstream to other parts of the body is relatively high.

What Causes Osteomyelitis in Individuals?

Osteomyelitis in patients is directly linked to the presence of a harmful bacteria known as staphylococcus aureus. This particular strain of bacteria is known to affect 2 out of every 10000 individuals and patients ailing from the following health disorders are highly prone to this ailment:

  • Diabetes.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis.
  • HIV.
  • Alcoholism.
  • Sickle cell disease.
  • Hemodialysis.
  • Poor blood circulation.
  • Intravenous drug abuse.
  • Excessive steroid use.
  • Bone surgeries.
  • Peripheral vascular disease.

Osteomyelitis can either be acute or chronic in nature. Cases of osteomyelitis that are initially diagnosed as acute can turn chronic if there is a lag in providing adequate treatment.

What Are The Common Symptoms Of Osteomyelitis?

Most patients ailing from this condition experience symptoms such as:

  • Swelling and redness in and around the infected bone.
  • Nausea.
  • Fever.
  • Reduced sensitivity in the affected area.
  • Fatigue.
  • Backache.

These symptoms of osteomyelitis can be ascertained by undergoing a bone biopsy that will aid medical experts in determining the strain of bacteria. 

Alternative treatment solutions such as hyperbaric therapy administered alongside prescription antibiotics or post-surgical procedures are known to provide significant relief to patients with osteomyelitis complications.

How Effective Is Hyperbaric Therapy For Osteomyelitis?

Oxygen is renowned for wound healing and is the mainstay of hyperbaric therapy. This age-old treatment was initially used in the 1960s’ to provide relief to deep-sea divers of the U.S. Navy for decompression sickness-related complications. 

Over the last six decades, researchers have continuously conducted clinical studies to decipher the untapped potential of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) whilst treating various other health afflictions. The positive results of these experiments have prompted hyperbaric experts to counter a host of afflictions with HBOT.

The FDA has currently approved the use of hyperbaric therapy for 13 medical conditions that are listed herewith:

  • Osteomyelitis.
  • Gas embolism.
  • Acute traumatic ischemia.
  • Thermal burns.
  • Gas gangrene.
  • Necrotizing infections.
  • Non-healing diabetic wounds.
  • Decompression sickness.
  • Cyanide poisoning
  • Compromised skin flaps.
  • Acute anemia.
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Radiation injury.

Process Of Hyperbaric Therapy For Osteomyelitis:

During the process of hyperbaric therapy for osteomyelitis, pure oxygen is administered to the patient inside a pressurized chamber known as a hyperbaric chamber.

The pressure of the oxygen that is dispensed to the patient inside the hyperbaric chamber is 1.2 to 3 times greater than normal atmospheric pressure and instantly disperses into the body fluids of the individual.

The high air pressure inside the hyperbaric chamber facilitates the oxygen-rich plasma to reach the infected parts of the body, thereby accelerating the healing process.

Regular hyperbaric therapy for osteomyelitis patients is known to:

  • Strengthen the osteoclasts or bone cells that are responsible for expelling bone debris from the affected bone.
  • Encourage the regeneration of white blood cells that are vital to building immunity.
  • Enhance the production of capillaries or fresh blood cells.
  • Promote angiogenesis.
  • Increase collagen production. 

These above-mentioned factors significantly contribute to the wound healing process by effectively tackling ischemia and stimulate healthy bone regeneration.

Patients and caregivers alike increasingly prefer using hyperbaric therapy for osteomyelitis related issues as this treatment does not require overnight hospitalization and can be undertaken on an outpatient basis.

Osteomyelitis patients have the option to undergo HBOT through three types of hyperbaric chambers for treatment, namely:

  1. Monoplace Hyperbaric Chamber:

A monoplane chamber is designed to deliver HBOT to one osteomyelitis patient at any given time and is predominantly installed in small clinics or homes.

  1. Multiplace Hyperbaric Chamber:

A multiplace hyperbaric chamber is specifically used in large medical facilities to simultaneously administer HBOT to multiple osteomyelitis patients during a single hyperbaric session. 

  1. Portable Hyperbaric Chamber:

Portable hyperbaric chambers are constructed from lightweight materials such as urethane or canvas. These chambers are portable and can be transported and installed at any location. 

A portable hyperbaric chamber is ideal for conducting hyperbaric therapy for osteomyelitis patients who are unable to travel long distances to medical facilities for treatment. An extensive study such as the one mentioned above has validated the efficacy of using hyperbaric therapy to significantly counter osteomyelitis, thereby providing millions of ailing patients with the hope of having a healthy future.

Categories: Health


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