Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy


The body has a complicated set of reactions to injury that result in a cascade of biochemical mediators described clinically as inflammation. Most of these processes revolve around the blood vessels. The classic components of inflammation include the following:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Heat
  • Pain
  • Loss of function

The role of blood vessels in injury is the reason for the above mentioned factors. All tissues have a certain density of capillary vessels. With injury, these vessels expand and become leaky, losing some of the plasma components into the surrounding tissue. This effect results in tissue swelling post injury. In certain circumstances, the swelling is so severe that the increased distance for oxygen diffusion is too far for normal perfusion to occur. In other situations, clotting of the blood vessels may occur resulting in complete loss of blood flow (ischemia). The result of either complication is tissue necrosis. The distance oxygen can diffuse is partly related to the concentration gradient. Increasing this gradient with hyperbaric oxygen therapy can increase the distance that oxygen can diffuse into these injured tissues.

Another mechanism of the effect of hyperoxygenation on tissue injury is vasoconstriction. This acts to reduce the hydrostatic pressure that forces fluid out of the capillaries into the tissues and therefore results in a reduction of tissue swelling.

Beyond inflammation is the issue of the reparative response of the body’s tissues. A wound defect is filled with blood components that progress to a clot that covers the defect. As time passes, the connective tissue cells (fibroblasts) become activated and begin to produce new connective tissue (collagen) to fill the defect.

Concurrently, new blood vessel ingrowth begins to provide nutrients and oxygen in order for this process to proceed. In addition, the epithelium begins to spread out and divide to cover the defect. Appropriate nutrients and oxygen are required for this concert of healing to work.

In certain injuries, this process of healing is delayed as a result of the extent of the tissue injury, which impairs the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the area. HBOT decreases tissue swelling and therefore allows improved oxygen and nutrient delivery to the area. HBOT also assists in the production of epithelium covering the wound and stimulates fibroblast production of collagen.

Know and identified by many names including Veterinary HBOT (Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy), Veterinary Hyperbarics or even Veterinary Oxygen Therapy in some areas, the results have been nothing short of remarkable.