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Published on February 16, 2017

Gundersen adds new hyperbaric oxygen therapy

Gundersen Infectious Disease and Wound Center is now offering hyperbaric oxygen therapy to treat chronic, hard-to-heal wounds such as diabetic foot ulcers, radiation injury and vascular insufficiency—conditions which may lead to amputation. Usually, standard wound therapy is first used for 30 days, but if that fails, hyperbaric oxygen therapy may be an option.

Patients on hyperbaric oxygen therapy receive higher concentrations of oxygen while pressurized in a hyperbaric chamber. Typical hyperbaric treatment pressures are two to three times normal atmospheric pressure. This increases the amount of oxygen taken in with each breathe by 10 to 15 times over normal levels.

Increasing tissue oxygen to hyperbaric levels has been demonstrated to:

  • Mobilize stem cells
  • Up-regulate certain growth factors
  • Stimulate growth of new capillaries
  • Blunt reperfusion injury
  • Be bacteriostatic and bactericidal

At Gundersen, hyperbaric oxygen therapy will be used for:

  • Diabetic foot ulcers to preserve limbs
  • Non-healing skin grafts and skin flap
  • Delayed radiation injury
  • Persistent or recurrent bone and tissue infections

As the only hyperbaric oxygen therapy in our service area, this new service is convenient for our patients who would otherwise have to drive hours to find a treatment facility. This is especially true because there is a time commitment with hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatments. It requires 90-minute treatments, five days a week for a month or more.

For maximum patient comfort, Gundersen's two hyperbaric chambers are the largest and longest available, accommodating patients up to 700 lb. There is a flat screen TV and access to our GetWell Network.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is generally a very safe option and is typically covered by insurance once specific criteria have been met. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is provided on Level 4 of the Gundersen Clinic in La Crosse.

For questions or to refer a patient, contact Infectious Disease and Wound Center via MedLink at (800) 336-5465 or in La Crosse at 775-5465.

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