Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBO) has been used at Doctors Hospital since 1991 for the treatment of emergencies and various disease processes. Three total body hyperbaric chambers are housed adjacent to the Joseph M. Still Burn Center, one of which is a Reneau unit that allows a physician, respiratory therapist or nurse to be inside the chamber with critical patients.

Definition of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Hyperbaric oxygen is a mode of therapy in which the patient breathes 100% oxygen at pressures greater than normal atmospheric (sea level) pressure.

Approved Indications for Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

  1. Air or Gas Embolism
  2. Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
  3. Gas Gangrene
  4. Crush Injury, Compartment Syndrome, and other Acute Traumatic Ischemias
  5. Decompression Sickness
  6. Enhancement of healing in selected problem wounds
  7. Exceptional blood loss (Anemia)
  8. Intracranial Abscess
  9. Necrotizing Soft Tissue
  10. Osteomyelitis (Refractory)
  11. Delayed Radiation Injury (Soft Tissue and Bony Necrosis)
  12. Skin Grafts and Flaps (Compromised)

Experimental Indications for Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Chamber Descriptions

Doctors Hospital uses two different types of chambers: The Sechrist Monoplace Hyperbaric Chamber and the Reneau Chamber.

The Sechrist Chamber consists of an acrylic cylinder in which the patient reclines while receiving therapy. During treatment, the patient is in constant contact with clinical staff through the use of internal and external speakers. The Sechrist chamber has pressurization capability of 3 atmospheres absolute (ATA). The Reneau Chamber is constructed of stainless steel and has a pressurization capability of 6 atmospheres absolute (ATA).

The main compartment accommodates the patient. An access lock behind the patient's head accommodates a seated attendant. The chamber is compressed with air, and the patient breathes oxygen through an individualized internal delivery system.

How Do The Chambers Feel?

Hyperbaric oxygen treatment consists of three phases:


During the compression phase, the patient experiences fullness in the ears, similar to while flying or scuba diving. Before treatment, patients are taught how to clear their ears. The chamber operator assists the patient in relieving the fullness during the treatment.


The chamber feels warm during the compression phase due to pressurization. Once the prescribed pressure is reached, the temperature in the chamber cools. During this time the patient may choose to watch TV, listen to music, or sleep. The treatment lasts approximately 90-120 minutes.


The decompression phase begins at the end of treatment. As the pressure is decreased, a “pop” or “crackling” sound occurs as the patient's ears readjust to normal pressure.