According to the 2003 report, the result of continuous HBOT treatments is "improved local host immune response, clearance
of infection, enhanced tissue growth and angiogenesis with progressive improvement of local tissue oxygenation and epithelialization
of hypoxic wounds."
Because HBOT drives the arterial oxygen content exceedingly high, it reduces swelling. As it increases oxygen to the mitochondria,
it stimulates healing and works synergistically with several antibiotics.
"Bacteria like pseudomonas normally develop a slime layer that is difficult to penetrate with antibiotics, but hyperbaric
oxygen therapy breaks it down, so you can then penetrate the cells and kill a lot of pseudomonas," says Mindy Johnson, DVM,
BARHC, at Bluegrass Animal Rehabilitation and Hyperbaric Center in Versailles, Ky.
"There are a lot of 'bugs' HBOT can kill even without any antibiotics."
"HBOT is very beneficial for infections," says Natanya Nieman, DVM, at Winstar Farm, also in Versailles, Ky.
Because most bacteria live in a low oxygen-tension environment and HBOT creates a higher oxygen tension, it is detrimental
to the bacteria. The hyperbaric chamber helps to potentiate antibiotics, especially aminoglycocides and sulfonamides.?
Applications of HBOT
"The high oxygen level is actually bactericidal for certain bacteria," says Roger Gfeller, DVM, Dipl. ACVECC, at the Central
California Veterinary Specialty Center in Fresno.
"You have to be conscious that you can't get to your patient in the chamber, so you need to watch for signs of discomfort,
or how they're breathing," Gfeller cautions. "If they're becoming anxious you may want to stop your compression and discontinue
the procedure. If they've got indwelling catheters, you must monitor to make sure they won't dislodge them. You need to monitor
what you're treating for, be cautious of pneumothorax. Most importantly, you must make sure there is nothing going into the
chamber that can spark, and create a combustible situation.
"Treating the multiples of diseases with high-pressure pure oxygen has so many healing benefits due to the fact that it drives
oxygen to the cells, it is hard to put into words how beneficial it is," Gfeller says.
For small animals, he says "it's really effective for pneumonia, intestinal ileus, post-surgery, gas gangrene, pancreatitis,
neurological injuries, including spine injuries, ivermectin poisoning, post-seizural cortical blindness."
"Hyberbaric oxygen therapy started in equine medicine about six years ago," says Fairfield Bain, DVM, vice president of Equine
Oxygen Therapy in Lexington, Ky. "We try to follow the general indications for human HBOT treatment therapies, those of the
American College of Hyperbaric Medicine and the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society, organizations that oversee and provide
guidelines to the human medical community.
"In equine medicine, the major categories for use of HBOT are those situations where you are salvaging tissues, i.e., difficult
wounds, bone infections and sloughing-tissue injuries. ...We use it in an attempt to salvage tissue that we might ordinarily
lose due to poor blood supply," Bain explains.
Hagyard-Davidson-McGee found HBOT especially useful for intestinal strangulation, due to colon torsion. "The earlier it's
applied, the better the outcome, especially in certain critical tissues, such as the colon, where if you apply it too late,
there is already a lot of tissue sloughing and injury," says Bain.
"I view it as an adjunctive therapy. It's not a sole treatment process. We still use our traditional medical therapies, but
it is just one extra tool that we use to enhance the outcome, and hopefully in some cases make the difference in survival,"
At Winstar Farm, "we use it most for infections, wounds, with newborn foals, for 'bleeders' (EIPH) and for tendon injuries,"