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Published on September 04, 2012

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for wounds

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy helps Patricia Finley get back in action

FinleyPatricia Finley’s career, hobby and passion are her family. The 72-years-young matriarch raised four daughters, enjoys seven grandchildren and was at the center of all family activities for decades. Then a feisty, painful wound on her left heel refused to mend and she begrudgingly took a seat on the sidelines.

Chronic, non-healing wounds like Patricia’s are not uncommon and can occur with a number of health conditions, including diabetes and internal infections. The right care involves careful testing to find the cause and appropriate treatment.

Patricia saw several doctors in her quest for a cure, yet no one could heal the wound—until her primary care physician referred her to Joseph D. Rondeau, DPM, program director for the Advanced Wound Care and Hyperbarics Center at Mercy Philadelphia Hospital. At that point, the wound had been open for two months and she was in pain. “I didn’t think my sore would ever heal,” Patricia recalls. “But Dr. Rondeau started me on a new treatment—hyperbaric oxygen therapy. The sore is completely healed now. I could not possibly ask for a better experience.”

Finding the culprit

Before starting Patricia on hyperbaric therapy, Dr. Rondeau ordered a battery of tests to find the cause of her infection and to make certain that the underlying problem was eliminated. He was able to find the culprit. “It turned out that a bone infection had spread to Patricia’s heel,” explains Dr. Rondeau. “I elected to surgically remove the infected bone part and insert antibiotic beads that treat the infection internally. After closing the wound, I put Patricia on hyperbaric oxygen therapy to heal the surgical site.”
Airtight results

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) involves a clear, acrylic, tube-like compartment that allows the patient to lie comfortably inside while breathing in pure oxygen. The air pressure is raised two to three times above regular atmospheric pressure, resulting in blood plasma oxygen concentrations 10 to 15 times greater than normal. This increases the amount of oxygen in the blood and allows a high level of oxygen to infuse damaged wound tissues. This speeds the healing process while also fighting infection.

The therapy typically involves one two-hour session per day, Monday through Friday, for 30 to 40 days. To help patients make this steep time commitment, Mercy Philadelphia Hospital helps coordinate transportation to and from the Hyperbarics Center. Hyperbaric patients are able to see clearly through the chamber and can watch TV or DVDs, sleep or read during treatment. Patients are accompanied by a technician at all times.

When you’re suffering from a sore or wound that won’t heal, there are major health benefits to visiting a wound care specialist—and sooner rather than later. Expert wound care promotes faster healing, can significantly decrease the risk of further infection and can prevent the loss of a limb. Patricia was quite impressed with how quickly she could return to normal daily activities after treatment. “After the sore healed, the first thing I did was to go grocery shopping. I hadn’t done that for months. It’s so nice to have my independence back.”

Healthy Healing

To find out more about the Advanced Wound Care and Hyperbarics Center at Mercy Philadelphia Hospital, call 1.877.GO MERCY or visit mercyhealth.org/services/wound-care.

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