Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) Available at Mars Hill Animal Hospital

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is a specialized medical intervention in which the atmospheric pressure is increased 1 ATA (Absolute Total Atmospheres) above sea level-(14.7 psig), usually by the filling of a single “person” chamber, multi-place chamber or a hyperbaric room with a dose specific amount of oxygen (atmospheric oxygen or enriched oxygen). At sea level, our lungs absorb a certain amount of oxygen molecules from the air. When descending to lower altitudes (below sea level), the pressure is greater (above 1ATA) and now the lungs more easily absorb the oxygen molecules in the air because they more compressed.

During a hyperbaric “dive” (named after the initial use of hyperbaric chambers as they were used by divers that had ascended too fast) fluids and tissues of the body receive an infusion of readily available oxygen. In fact, even cells and areas of the body with limited circulation become more saturated in oxygen. The effect is an increased uptake of oxygen in the blood, plasma, cerebral-spinal fluids, and tissues. In addition, the vasoconstrictive nature of hyperbaric therapy has an added effect of reducing inflammation and edema (the build-up of added fluid in tissues that decreases the ability for oxygen to diffuse into the cells).

Our hyperbaric oxygen chamber in use (photo above). It is available by owner request or by direct referral request (where veterinarians can refer their patients to us specifically for HBOT). There are no known contraindications other than an uncontrolled pneumothorax.. There are no other chambers in the local area and as far as known it is the only active chamber for pets in Georgia.
Uses of HBOT

Currently, there is an increase in the amount of research being conducted on hyperbaric medicine in modern practice. Published studies in leading journals, such as The New England Journal of Medicine and Critical Care Medicine document the use of HBOT for the treatment of such indications as sepsis, acute carbon monoxide poisoning, gas gangrene, air embolism, severe and infected wounds, bone infections, burns, ulcers and edema. But these established indications only begin to open the current chapter in the use of modern hyperbaric technology.

Uses of HBOT

There are studies now that indicate its effectiveness in neurological conditions published in leading journals such as Stroke and Journal of Neurology. We have had success in neurological conditions such as intervertebral disc herniation that left the dog paralyzed or in severe pain. We also most often combine this adjunctive hyperbaric oxygen therapy with surgery and other medical therapies that are designed to decrease inflammation and spinal cord swelling, i.e., targeted pulsed electromagnetic field therapy, hypertonic saline and mannitol. In short, the indications of hyperbaric oxygen are continuing to expand so please ask us about its possibility for your pet if we do not ? Here is a brief partial list of conditions we commonly treat with HBOT:

  • Severe wounds
  • Postoperative skin flaps
  • Wound infections
  • Fractures especially those not healing well
  • Fungal infections
  • Head and spinal cord injuries
  • Gastrointestinal infections
  • GI foreign bodies (both before and after surgery)
  • Pancreatitis
  • Parvovirus
  • Peritonitis
  • Kidney infections
  • Paralysis from disc ruptures
  • Pain from disc protrusion
  • Post operative swelling and pain
  • Crush injuries
  • Post resuscitation
  • Pain palliation with cancer patients
  • Smoke inhalation
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Burns
  • Snake and spider bite