Oxygen is not only required for the generation of energy needed for cell division and protein synthesis. It’s been found that it can stimulate the production of various cellular mediators necessary for healing. Oxygen isn’t stored, so its concentration in the tissues depends on several factors: the lung/gas exchange, cardiac output, tissue perfusion, capillary density, and the oxygen content of blood and tissue oxygen consumption. Hyperbaric therapy is a tool that speeds up this healing process.
A study by the Medical Society of Santiago de Chile, published in 2014, showed that the use of hyperbaric oxygen turned out to be useful and safe on the treatment of acute and chronic wounds. The treatment in hyperbaric chambers increased blood oxygen pressure, benefiting the re-oxygenation of the wound, formation of new blood vessels, proliferation of fibroblasts, stem cell arrival to the affected site, collagen synthesis, and immune local response.
In comparison to normal pressure conditions, in a hyperbaric chamber, oxygen concentration dissolved in blood increases more than 12 times. Exposure to oxygen under these conditions not only increases arterial oxygen content and its diffusion into tissues, but also increases the generation of reactive oxygen and nitrogen.
Formation of new blood vessels, which is increased in the number of fibroblasts and collagen deposition, are part of the healing process. Apart from that, hyperbaric oxygen is capable of enhancing the phagocytic and bactericidal function and chemotaxis of macrophages into the wound. This process has special relevance in individuals when their immune system is compromised, such as diabetics or patients with congenital or acquired immunodeficiency.
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