Frequently Asked Questions about Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

To find out if Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is right for you, speak with your physician or call
New England Hyperbaric
Medicine at Saint Francis

(860) 714-3000

Monday through Friday
7:30AM - 4PM

New England
Hyperbaric Medicine
at Saint Francis

500 Blue Hills Avenue
Hartford, Connecticut 06112
Phone: (860) 714-3000
Fax: (860) 714-8594

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What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy? 

Why do I need hyperbaric oxygen therapy?

What will happen during treatment?

Will my dressings need to be removed before each treatment? 

How many treatments will I need? 

Are there any side effects or risks? 

What conditions does hyperbaric oxygen therapy treat? 

What if my condition is not listed above? 

What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy? 

Hyperbaric Oxygen (HBO) Therapy is a non-invasive therapy during which patients lie in a specially designed see-through chamber and breathe 100% oxygen at up to three times normal atmospheric pressure.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy helps stimulate the growth of new blood vessels and allows the body’s immune system to more effectively repair tissue and fight infection. It can also kill bacteria that cause life-threatening diseases and reduce inflammation or swelling that disrupt blood flow to tissues. Finally, hyperbaric oxygen therapy may also be used to help eliminate toxic substances from the tissues of patients affected by smoke inhalation or carbon monoxide poisoning.

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Why do I need hyperbaric oxygen therapy? 

There are factors in your clinical condition that indicate HBO may help your body heal. Tissue damaged by disease or injury requires increased amounts of oxygen to help fight infection and sustain the healing processes. HBO therapy helps improve oxygenation of wounds and promotes healing. It can also activate white blood cells to help fight infection. 

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What will happen during treatment? 

When you come in for your appointment you will change into hospital-provided scrubs. We will assess your vital signs (blood pressure, heart rate, temperature) and you will be placed on a stretcher that rolls in and out of hyperbaric chamber. Patients simply lie comfortably in the chamber for the duration of treatment.  You can watch television or choose a movie from our selection, or bring your own. There is communication between staff and patient at all times.  Patients can expect to be here for two to three hours.  

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Will my dressings need to be removed before each treatment? 

No.  This therapy works naturally by using your cardiovascular system to deliver the oxygen you are breathing to the tissues.

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How many treatments will I need? 

This will depend upon the nature of your problem and your progress.  A hyperbaric physician will determine the number of treatments needed based on your diagnosis and your condition’s response to treatment. For chronic infections and wound healing problems, the number of treatments can range from 20 to 60 over the course of several weeks.  Outpatients are generally treated once a day for 5 days a week and treatments are usually about 90 minutes.

Our facility operates from 7:30 AM to 4:00 Pm on weekdays. We will work with your schedule to accommodate treatment times.  

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Are there any side effects or risks? 

Most patients do not experience any serious negative side effects from hyperbaric oxygen therapy. The most common side effect at the initiation of therapy is ear-popping, similar to what you might feel on an airplane or in an elevator.  Simply yawning or swallowing can help alleviate this sensation.

Any other risks, based on your specific diagnoses and personal medical history, will be discussed in detail prior to starting treatment. 

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What conditions does hyperbaric oxygen therapy treat? 

HBO is most often used to treat: 

  • wounds that do not heal as expected
  • bone infections that don’t resolve as expected
  • tissue changes resulting from radiation exposure (i.e. following cancer treatment)
  • skin grafts or skin flaps that show compromised healing
  • carbon monoxide poisoning  

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What if my condition is not listed above? 

To see if HBO therapy can help you, please talk to your doctor or call us at 860-714-3000.

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