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Published on August 21, 2018

Gundersen offers hyperbaric oxygen therapy for hard-to-heal wounds

Gundersen Infectious Disease and Wound Center offers Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) to you and your patients to treat chronic, hard-to-heal wounds such as diabetic foot ulcers, radiation injury and vascular insufficiency—conditions which may lead to amputation. 

Patients on HBOT 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.

Increasing tissue oxygen to hyperbaric levels:

  • Mobilizes stem cells
  • Up-regulates certain growth factors and receptors
  • Stimulates growth of new capillaries
  • Enhances white blood cell activity
  • Stimulates angiogenesis
  • Blunts reperfusion injury 
  • Can be bacteriostatic and bactericidal

At Gundersen, HBOT is used for these CMS approved indications:

  • Diabetic wounds of the lower extremities to preserve limbs 
  • Radiation injury including radiation cystitis, radiation proctitis and radionecrosis
  • Persistent or recurrent bone and tissue infections 
  • Preparation and preservation of non-healing skin grafts and flaps

Case Reports

In our first year offering HBOT, Gundersen treated 19 patients (652 total treatments). Here are just three case reports exemplifying some of the types of wounds we've treated: 

  • Case report 1 – As the result of treatment for squamous cell carcinoma of the mandible, patient had an open wound on the jawline. The patient had 30 HBOT treatments over two months. Within a few weeks of completing treatments, there was no more wound drainage and the patient was no longer loosing food and liquid through the wound.
  • Case report 2 – Patient had soft tissue radionecrosis from radiation treatment for prostate cancer. After 40 HBOT treatments over two months, the patient reported that hematuria was reduced. 
  • Case report 3 – Patient with severe diabetic leg wound received 45 HBOT treatments for about two months resulting in complete wound healing

HBOT treatments require 90-minute treatments five days a week for a month or more. For patient convenience and comfort, Gundersen has two hyperbaric chambers—the largest and longest available—with TV and access to our GetWell Network.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is generally safe and typically covered by insurance once specific criteria have been met. HBOT is provided on Level 4 of the 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.


Article originally published in February 2017 Issue of Medlink News and updated for the August 2018 issue.

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