Normally, all cells are within the diffusion distance of oxygen from capillaries.  Each cell is able to receive the necessary oxygen for normal function. In healthy tissue, there are enough vessels within appropriate distance to all cells, as seen to the right.

How HBO Therapy Works

The figure on the right demonstrates tissue under hyperbaric conditions, which decreases edema and increases tissue oxygenation. Edema is decreased by increasing reabsorption. Tissue oxygenation is restored due to the high content of oxygen in the blood, allowing the diffusion distance of oxygen to increase several fold. This allows return of normal cellular function to the ischemic cells. Necrotic tissue remains nonviable, and most other cells recover.

The figure to the left demonstrates tissue after a trauma. Capillaries are injured, interstitial fluid increases, and cells swell. Under these conditions, some cells are no longer in range of the diffusion gradient. They become ischemic, and can turn necrotic. The injured blood vessels are indicated in grey, ischemic cells in blue, and necrotic cells in black.

Healing with Hyperbarics

After several hyperbaric treatments, angiogenesis begins, restoring more normal blood flow, as demonstrated to the left. Surrounding cells are able to begin to remove the necrotic or dead tissue. This is especially important with bone, tendon and ligament injuries which have relatively less blood flow.

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