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Page last updated
11th April, 2014

Elective Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

View of chamber from ambulance bay.Although the primary role of the hyperbaric medicine unit is to provide emergency treatment for decompression illness and carbon monoxide poisoning, certain other patients benefit from the use of elective HBO therapy.

The conditions most often treated at the unit are specific types of infections, wounds and tissue damage caused by osteoradionecrosis.


The most common condition treated at the Hyperbaric Medicine Unit is osteoradionecrosis caused by radio therapy for cancer of the head and neck.

In order to heal, the body's tissues require oxygen. Hyperbaric oxygen provides a better healing environment and can also lead to growth of many new blood vessels (re-vascularisation) around de-vascularised tissue, which can affect limb extremities particularly. The most common treatment carried out at the unit is for maxillofacial osteoradionecrosis and osteomyelitis, which results in damage to the jawbone and tissues due to radiotherapy for cancer in the head and neck.

These conditions are typified by local tissue ischaemia and infection. The lesions do not heal without the growth of blood vessels into the affected region and this is promoted by the use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which also has bacteriocidal and bacteriostatic effects.

Elective Treatment

Comex TT12The dive table used for elective cases is the Modified Comex Treatment Table 12 (TT12). Treatment is usually carried out five days per week (Monday to Friday) for four to six weeks.

In the case of surgical patients, treatment normally consists of 20 sessions before, and 10 sessions after the surgery.

Information for new patients about to receive hyperbaric oxygen therapy can be found in the patient information section of this site.


David LA, Sandor GK, Evans AW, et al.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy and mandibular osteoradionecrosis: a retrospective study and analysis of treatment outcomes.
J Can Dent Assoc (Canada), Jul 2001, 67(7) p384

MacFarlane C, Cronje FJ
Hyperbaric oxygen and surgery.
S Afr J Surg (South Africa), Nov 2001, 39(4) p117-21