Hyperbaric oxygen therapy in orthopedic conditions: An evaluation of safety

Kuo Chin Huang, Wei Hsiu Hsu, Kuo Ti Peng, Tsung Jen Huang, Robert Wen Wei Hsu

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17 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Because of the documented cellular and biochemical benefits of hyperbaric oxygen (HBO), HBO therapy is applied now with increasing frequency to various orthopedic conditions. Many traumatologists and orthopedic surgeons might refer their patients for adjuvant HBO therapy. However, the potential risks and risk-benefit ratio have often been underemphasized in therapeutic trials. METHODS: From October 2002 to September 2004, 240 patients with a total of 4,638 treatments received HBO therapy at the hyperbaric medicine center of our institution on an identical treatment protocol. HBO therapy patient treatment logs were reviewed to analyze the incidence of complications during HBO treatment. RESULTS: The overall incidence of complications was 1.83%. Over 94% of treatment complications were mild to moderate and designated as minor complications; fewer than 6% were severe or life threatening and designated as major complications. The incidence of major complications (central nervous system [CNS] oxygen toxicity in this series) was 0.109%. There was no mortality. Two patients with unusual presentation of CNS oxygen toxicity were observed during the study period. CONCLUSIONS: HBO therapy in orthopedic conditions is considered as a safe treatment because of a very low complication rate; however, analysis of patients with CNS oxygen toxicity revealed its unpredictability and inevitability. Although it is common sense that patients who develop a seizure in the hospital need help from the medical staff, it cannot be done in a monoplace hyperbaric chamber because of pressure unequalization. Therefore, a multiplace chamber equipped with an antechamber for medical contingency is possibly the better facility in consideration of safety.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)913-917
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Trauma - Injury, Infection and Critical Care
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • CNS oxygen toxicity
  • Hyperbaric oxygen therapy
  • Monoplace chamber
  • Multiplace chamber
  • Safety
  • Status epilepticus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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