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Divers who descend very deep and those who use mixed gasses can have severe decompression sickness and may require a sustained, high level of care. At UCLA, such patients can receive intensive medical care — including breathing support and medical management of blood pressure — and can be treated with longer hyperbaric sessions at greater than normal depths.
Among diabetics, nerve damage and the lack of adequate blood flow in the feet can lead to ulcerations that fail to properly heal. Non-healing foot wounds can lead to amputation, which itself may not heal well due to the same circulatory problems. Non-healing amputation wounds are associated with a significantly increased risk of mortality among these patients.
Hyperbaric therapy can prevent amputations and help heal amputation sites by increasing blood flow to the area. Saturating the tissue with oxygen stimulates stem cells to spur the growth of new blood vessels in the damaged tissue.
While many diabetic foot patients treated elsewhere are cared for by only one specialist, UCLA Hyperbaric Medicine’s team approach puts vascular surgeons, podiatrists, infectious disease specialists, and hyperbaric specialists in one location for a collaborative, team-oriented approach. UCLA coordinates among all specialists to ensure that patients receive the care they need in order to achieve the best possible outcomes.
Late Radiation-induced Injury
Among patients who receive radiation as part of their treatment for cancer, a small percentage suffer from the effects of damage done to surrounding tissue, often months after their radiation therapy. In these cases, tissue in the treatment area can develop open sores (ulcerate), either on the skin or internally, or can die off (necrose). A lack of adequate blood supply in the
area means that the injuries tend not to heal and also makes these patients bad surgical candidates, as they will heal poorly following treatment.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy can improve the blood supply to areas damaged by late radiation-induced injury, allowing the tissue to heal. Improved
blood circulation also makes the patient a better candidate for surgery to repair the damage.