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Hyperbaric oxygen

Treatment with hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) involves breathing concentrated oxygen gas at higher than normal atmospheric pressure. This treatment happens in a closed chamber in which both composition and pressure of the atmosphere can be controlled. Such HBO treatment chambers are equipped to either host a number of people or a single person for a session. If a course of HBO sessions has been prescribed for you, it will usually mean having to travel to places where this treatment is available.

The HBO approach is probably best known as a well-established treatment for decompression sickness of scuba divers and to counteract carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.

HBO treatment is based on the idea that at elevated pressure more oxygen molecules will be dissolved in body fluids. It is thought that this (temporarily) increased oxygen concentration may stimulate the function of damaged cells, in particular in tissues that are suffering from reduced blood supply. The main clinical applications for HBO are the treatment of some severe infections and bone necrosis. In some cases HBO has been used as a precaution to avoid bone necrosis resulting from dental treatments such as tooth extractions after radiotherapy in the head and neck region.

The outcome of a large prospective randomized trial known as HOPON is now (2018) published.

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