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Hyperbaric Therapy Could Help Diabetics



Hyperbaric medicine is not new. It has been used since the 1940s to treat decompression sickness from scuba diving, carbon monoxide poisoning, and chronic bone infections. For the past 35 years, it also has been used for healing wounds.


In an earlier retrospective study, Stone and his colleagues looked at results for 1,633 patients treated for wounds over 33 months. Of those, 501 were diabetic; 119 received hyperbaric oxygen therapy and the rest received conventional treatment. They found that the limb salvage rate was 72% for those on pure oxygen and only 53% for the rest. Stone cautions that this was not a controlled study, so not a true measure of the effectiveness of hyperbarics in reducing amputation.


"Hyperbarics is important," says Stone. "It's just one of the things done to treat wounds. The majority of patients don't need hyperbarics. My average patient presents with a wound that has been there 11.8 months. I think the key in many of these cases is a multidisciplinary approach. ... We need to better define which patients will respond to hyperbarics."

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