Hyperbaric medicine (also called hyperbaric oxygen therapy or HBOT) is a growing branch of medicine based on the use of hyperbaric chambers in which the patient breathes pure oxygen or compressed air at above atmospheric pressure(generally between 2 and 3 absolute atmospheres or ATA) for a certain time.

The use of hyperbaric chambers was devised decades ago to treat the decompression sickness that can result from diving accidents. Since then, Its use has been extended to the treatment of many other pathologies.

The basis of hyperbaric medicine: Increased oxygen in the patient’s tissues

Under normal conditions, the haemoglobin of red blood cells is already practically saturated with oxygen. This does not, however, imply that oxygen reaches all tissues correctly. In cases of severe anaemia or significant blood loss, the red blood cells alone are not able to guarantee adequate oxygenation of the tissue, which is why another route is established – ‘secondary’, yet fundamental in this type of patient, increasing the amount of oxygen dissolved in the blood plasma. This is achieved by placing the patient in a hyperbaric chamber, as the increased pressure in the chamber results in an increase in the partial pressure of oxygen in the arterial blood, which can increase from 90mm Hg under normal conditions to 2400mm Hg at a pressure of 3 ATA.

Hyperbaric medicine is currently increasingly used in cases in which there is a situation of tissue hypoxia that can lead to necrosis, either due to the causes mentioned above or due to vascular problems.

The hyperoxygenation of blood plasma can also be very beneficial to accelerate the healing of ulcers, thermal burns, open fractures, diabetic foot treatment, bone necrosis (as it stimulates new bone development) and indeed any pathologies in which there may be a deficit of tissue oxygenation.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is also useful in the treatment of necrotizing infections caused by Clostridium, a type of bacteria belonging to the “strict anaerobes” category, which cannot be reproduced in the presence of high oxygen concentrations and which can cause gas gangrene.

It has also been successfully used in the treatment of sudden hearing loss.

The US-based Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society is the reference body worldwide to precisely define the indications of hyperbaric medicine.

Intravenous drug administration in hyperbaric chambers

Although individual use of hyperbaric chambers exists, the use of larger chambers is becoming widespread, allowing medical professionals to treat several patients at once. In many cases, these are critically ill patients who are receiving a supply of intravenous medication which cannot be interrupted.

In these cases, it is essential to have the right pump to avoid false alarms which may lead to the pump interrupting the infusion. A normal infusion pump may not work properly in a high-pressure environment, so a pump which has been certified for use in hyperbaric environments is imperative. In addition to all the technological and safety advantages of the Chroma series, the arcomed Hyperbaric Chroma pumps are certified for use up to 12.5 ATA, providing a guarantee of reliability and safety to both medical professionals and patients alike.