The Basics of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
Modern cancer treatment protocols include radiation in over 50% of cases. This has had the positive effect of increasing survival. Some of these survivors will experience the late effects of radiation. These delayed effects impact the surrounding normal tissue and become evident months to years after the treatment protocols are over.
Radiation injury to these normal tissues results in cell death, damage to blood vessels in the irradiated field, a depletion of stem cells that promote normal healing and the buildup of fibrotic tissue. The decreased blood supply and increasing hypoxia makes surgery in these areas challenging. The soft tissues such as bowel and bladder are more prone to bleeding and in many instances cause significant negative impact on a patient’s quality of life.
Treating Clostridial Myonecrosis with Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
Suppose you have been diagnosed with gas gangrene, also known as clostridial myonecrosis. In that case, you and your doctor may be considering the use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy as a treatment option. However, it is crucial to understand hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) and its benefits.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a treatment where individuals are placed inside a special environment that increases the pressure and pure oxygen. As patients remain in this environment, the pure oxygen perfuses into the blood to help increase the total amount of oxygen. As oxygen supersaturates the blood, it can reach tissues that may generally be oxygen-deprived. The increased oxygenation to tissues has a variety of benefits for patients, particularly those suffering from clostridial myonecrosis.
Understanding Gas Gangrene
Gas gangrene is considered a progressive infection that targets the soft tissues. The infection occurs because of a buildup of bacteria called clostridium. While there are approximately 150 different species of this bacteria, only a few are known to cause gas gangrene.
The infection generally begins at a single point in the body but can spread rapidly to adjacent tissues. While the infection can occur anywhere in the body, it frequently begins in the digestive tract or from a wound that has become infected.
Gas gangrene is a more severe form of infection because it contains a unique toxin called an exotoxin. Exotoxins liquefy and destroy adjacent healthy tissue. When the infection destroys the tissues, it is then called clostridial myonecrosis. Necrosis refers to the death of a cell. This process can reduce the body’s ability to fight off the infection. If the condition is particularly virulent, it can destroy healthy tissues and continue its spread in the space of a few hours.
However, these bacteria have a specific weakness. Clostridium bacteria are a type of anaerobic bacteria. This means that they prefer and thrive in low oxygen environments. When they are exposed to oxygen-rich environments, their ability to replicate or produce exotoxin is reduced.
Increases White Blood Cell Effectiveness
Stimulates Release of Stem Cells
Improves Quality of Life in Patients
Most Conditions Covered by Insurance
Using Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy in the Treatment of Gas Gangrene
So, why are hyperbaric chambers effective in treating gas gangrene? When doctors and researchers found that clostridium bacteria don’t thrive in oxygenated environments, it was a quick jump to treat patients with hyperbaric oxygen therapy. However, as with most conditions, hyperbaric oxygen therapy is not a standalone treatment plan. While HBOT can help prohibit or reduce the spread of infection, additional treatments are required to help eliminate the infection. In minor cases that were caught early, antibiotics may be the only other intervention. However, because gas gangrene moves so quickly, most patients also require surgery to remove the infected tissue.
Using Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy to Treat Gas Gangrene
Unfortunately, gas gangrene is a rapidly progressing infection that can lead to catastrophic pain and suffering for patients. Many people don’t receive the proper treatment in time and will die from this infection. Additionally, many facilities do not have the specialized facilities to treat patients with hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Fortunately, our facility utilizes cutting-edge technologies to offer our patients HBOT for gas gangrene and various other infections, illnesses, or medical conditions. We believe that providing patients the best services that modern medicine can provide is our mission. That is why we work diligently to help patients with their medical needs. If you think you may benefit from hyperbaric oxygen therapy, call our office today to schedule your consultation. If you or somebody you know has been diagnosed with gas gangrene, don’t delay in calling to ensure the best possible outcome by receiving HBOT treatment for gas gangrene.
Coverage for HBO is dependent on your insurance company’s Coverage Determination Policy.
Some indications are still not covered or coverage can vary by insurance provider. Contact us to verify coverage.