Healing Diabetic Foot Ulcers with Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)

HBOT is a treatment alternative in which an individual breathes nearly pure oxygen within a specialized hyperbaric chamber. There is evidence that HBOT can be used for a number of purposes, including accelerating the healing of wounds. As a result, it might aid in the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers.

A disorder called diabetes affects how the body uses blood glucose. The risk of problems may rise if blood sugar levels are not under control. Due to diabetes’s effects on blood circulation, which can impede wound healing, potential complications include foot issues.

Researchers estimate that between 15 and 25 per cent of diabetics will develop a foot ulcer at some point in their lives. Approximately 6% of these people will need to be admitted to the hospital owing to difficulties.

In certain situations, a doctor might advise HBOT. In order to help supply the blood with adequate oxygen to aid in tissue healing, this treatment uses a specific chamber where an individual breathes in oxygen at higher air pressure levels than usual. While studies are still being conducted, there is increasing evidence suggesting that HBOT may be useful in the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers.

We explain what HBOT is in this article and discuss how it can aid in the healing of wounds in diabetic foot ulcer patients.

Healing Diabetic Foot Ulcers with Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) 1

According to medical professionals, hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is a breathing technique in which a patient is pressurized to a pressure higher than sea level while inhaling almost 100% oxygen. Hyperbaric describes a gas that is at higher atmospheric pressure than normal.

For the body to operate properly, oxygen is needed. Human breath normally comprises 21% oxygen. HBOT helps the lungs retain more of this gas by having the patient breathe practically pure oxygen in a designated room. The goal of this treatment is to raise blood oxygen levels in order to aid in tissue healing and return the body to normal functioning. This additional oxygen can aid in wound healing, infection removal, and inflammation reduction.

A person entering a unique space known as a hyperbaric chamber to undergo HBOT. This chamber is specifically designed by the manufacturers to hold air at a pressure that is 1.5–3 times higher than that of the atmosphere at sea level. Certain chambers are designed to hold a single person, while others have space for multiple individuals.

The following are some of the more prevalent ailments that HBOT can treat:

  • Side effects after radiation treatment
  • Toxicity from carbon monoxide
  • Serious illnesses caused by bacteria
  • Decompression sickness in divers 
  • Slow-healing wounds, including diabetic foot ulcers

The hyperbaric chamber can be accessed by those with slow-healing wounds for a maximum of two hours at a time. It can take them 20 to 60 HBOT treatments.

HBOT has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat 13 diseases, including wounds like diabetic foot ulcers. HBOT is also listed by the Undersea & Hyperbaric Medical Society as a diabetic foot ulcer treatment option.

According to a 2018 study, HBOT was successful in treating 74.2% of patients with diabetic foot ulcers. When compared to other treatment options, the application of HBOT significantly accelerated the healing process for foot ulcers.

It is important to remember, nevertheless, that physicians might wait to provide HBOT if they don’t think the wound qualifies as a Wagner grade 3 or better. A 0–5 scale is used in this grading system to represent the degree of tissue involvement and damage.

The body uses oxygen to promote tissue growth and healing throughout the natural healing process of wounds. HBOT promotes the growth of new blood vessels surrounding the injured area, which increases oxygen delivery to the area. This infusion of nutrients and oxygen promotes the growth of new, healthy tissue.

Hyperbaric Oxygen therapy

HBOT may be beneficial for people with diabetic foot ulcers in a number of ways. Its ability to expedite the healing process is its main advantage. Faster healing can help diabetics reap the benefits of an active lifestyle and prevent issues related to pressure sores on the feet.

According to a 2020 systematic review and meta-analysis, this treatment can enhance the quality of life and help prevent major adverse events, including amputation and wound infection, in addition to boosting healing.

Like any medical therapy, there are dangers associated with HBOT. The following are a few potential HBOT adverse effects:

  • Harm to the ears and sinuses
  • Vision abnormalities that might cause seizures, such as nearsightedness, 
  • Lung injury, and 
  • Oxygen toxicity

Other side effects, such as hypoglycemia during hyperbaric treatments, also happen to some persons. Eating before treatments and routine blood glucose monitoring during the appointment are recommended to prevent this.

People who suffer from claustrophobia may discover that being in a hyperbaric chamber exacerbates their symptoms. Despite the fact that the manufacturers of these chambers make every effort to ensure comfort, individuals who find it difficult to stay in cramped areas have to consult a physician before beginning an HBOT session.

However, most adverse effects are minimal, and if the therapy lasts for less than two hours and the pressure within the chamber is less than three times normal, then patients should be able to avoid them.

To reduce the chance of problems, only board-certified and experienced medical professionals should provide HBOT.

A possible consequence of diabetes is a diabetic foot ulcer. It happens when blood circulation in the feet is impacted by abnormal blood sugar levels, which can impede the healing of wounds. To assist treat severe diabetic foot ulcers, a doctor may recommend HBOT in addition to blood glucose control.

HBOT is approved by the FDA for the treatment of non-healing wounds, including diabetic foot ulcers. During the operation, the patient inhales nearly pure oxygen while in a pressurized HBOT chamber. As a result, the blood’s oxygen content rises, increasing oxygen delivery to the wound and encouraging healing.

HBOT appears to be a useful treatment for diabetic foot ulcers, but more research is still needed in this area.

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.