Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
Does It Fit Into the Cancer Care Toolbox?
In hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), patients inspire pure oxygen inside of a vessel pressurized between 1 and 3 atm. Under these conditions, the concentration of dissolved oxygen in plasma rises because of the increased partial pressure of oxygen. By improving oxygen delivery to tissues, HBOT can reverse cellular hypoxia, promote antimicrobial activity, and subdue inflammation (1). These beneficial effects have led to HBOT gaining several indications beyond the treatment of diving-related decompression illness, for which it is most commonly used (2). To date, HBOT has FDA approval to treat 14 conditions, which are listed below in Table 1:
Table 1: FDA Approved Indications for HBOT
Hyperbaric chambers vary substantially in their capacity, composition, and pressure rating. Multiplace chambers constructed from metal can accommodate multiple patients during a treatment session, whereas monoplace chambers can hold a single user at a time. Over time, advances in material sciences have led to the latter design becoming more common in medical centers. These smaller, lighter, acrylic tubes are generally less expensive to install and retrofit into existing spaces; they can additionally allow for physiologic monitoring (3). Despite their relative affordability, monoplace chambers are expensive (4)