Overview

Based at Providence Portland Medical Center, the unit is Oregon's only 24-hour hospital-based hyperbaric service.

During hyperbaric oxygen therapy, pressurized chambers with a 100 percent oxygen environment counter the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning, smoke inhalation, and decompression illness in scuba divers, as well as promote tissue healing in patients with impaired circulation due to diabetes, trauma and radiation therapy.

Overview

During hyperbaric oxygen therapy, a person is placed in an enclosed clear acrylic chamber into which 100 percent oxygen is pumped at high pressure. The purpose is to increase the level of oxygen in the blood. This increases the amount of oxygen available, which can prevent tissue death, promote healing and help fight infection. The process involves three phases: compression, treatment and decompression.

The beginning of the treatment is the compression phase, where the atmospheric pressure is increased over several minutes. This causes the concentration of oxygen in the bloodstream to rise 15 to 20 times greater than normal.

Once full pressurization occurs, the treatment phase begins and continues for approximately one and a half to two hours. These high levels of oxygen promote the healing of damaged tissues, reduce swelling, reduce air bubble size and discourage bacteria growth. Blood pressure, heart rate and other vitals may be monitored throughout the course of treatment.

The final step of treatment is the decompression phase, in which the chamber temperature returns to normal. This takes place over a period of several minutes.

What to expect during hyperbaric therapy

Hyperbaric therapy usually involves a series of sessions in one of our three chambers. Before a patient is placed in the chamber, the staff will discuss a variety of topics to assure a safe and comfortable treatment. After the chamber’s door is closed,our specially-trained technician talks to the patient through an intercom system. As the pressure increases, a patient’s ears may “pop” as they would when driving up a hill or changing altitude in a plane.

Depending on a patient’s condition, a therapy session may last from two to two and a half hours. During the session, the patient may watch TV or select a movie from our vast collection. For safety considerations, books and magazines are not permitted in the chamber.