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Treatment of Acute Thermal Burns Using Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)

Acute burns account for a relatively high mortality rate, especially among children aged 1-10 years. There are plenty of health challenges that arise as a result of severe burns. This is due to the sudden state of shock/trauma that the body is put through. The vasculature, immunity, and oxygen supply become impaired as a result of the burn. Infections that result from compromising the integumentary system are the biggest cause of fatalities. The weak immune system suffers greatly from invasion by bacteria through the burnt regions. Also, the messed up microvascularization implies that cell metabolism is interfered with since the oxygen demands for the cells are not met. In severe cases, multiple organs are highly prone to dysfunction which could lead to paralysis, stroke, or even death when not attended to promptly.

Health Benefits of HBOT

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) has the effect of increasing immunity which reduces chances of open wound infection from aerobic bacteria. The bacterial count on the wounded surfaces reduces immensely with the introduction of hyperbaric oxygen. HBOT is also highly efficient in instances where the body is resistant to other forms of treatment of infections, such as antibiotics. HBO also plays a key role in the phasing out of white cell adhesion that occurs on the endothelial surface. HBOT lays a good foundation for corrective forms of treatment on the burned body parts. The corrective measures include skin grafts and flaps.

HBOT aids in lessening the fluid necessities of the individual suffering from acute burns. As the burns form pus there is a high loss of fluid through the wound hence the high fluid requirements. During this period, patients have to consume high amounts of fluids. HBOT aids in revascularization and growth of new cells (angiogenesis). Revascularization has the effect of boosting microcirculation of oxygenated blood which is crucial for fast recovery. The increased oxygen supply boosts the synthesis of collagen hence the regrowth of new cells. There is a resultant increase in inflammatory cell migration as well as reemergence of new epithelium on the burnt parts, commonly referred to as re-epithelialization. HBOT also has the effect of reducing the severity and progression of the burns. It prevents the burns from moving from second to third degree. The state of the burnt tissues can remain static and not move to a necrotic level. Once the tissues affected become viable, they can resume their functions. With time, the scars and the irregular pigmentation can reduce in size as well. HBOT lessens tissue edema by enabling vasoconstriction. The high concentration of edema is therefore reversed.

Proper healing from the use of hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) means that in some instances the patients do not need surgery. Also, in case they are admitted to a health facility, they won’t be there for long since recovery from the burns is hastened. Proper recovery also means there are fewer fatalities. This form of adjunct therapy is highly cost-effective and efficient for a context that would otherwise be difficult to handle.


Oley, M. H., Oley, M. C., Aling, D. M., Kalangi, J. A., Islam, A. A., Hatta, M., Patellongi, I. J., Josh, F., & Faruk, M. (2021). Effects of hyperbaric oxygen therapy on the healing of thermal burns and its relationship with ICAM-1: A case-control study. Annals of Medicine and Surgery, 61(5), 104–109.

Oley, M. H., Oley, M. C., Wewengkang, L. A. J., Kepel, B. J., Langi, F. L., Setiadi, T., Aling, D. M., Gunawan, D. F., Tulong, M. T., & Faruk, M. (2022). Bactericidal effect of hyperbaric oxygen therapy in burn injuries. Annals of Medicine & Surgery, 74(2), 103–109.

Weitgasser, L., Ihra, G., Schäfer, B., Markstaller, K., & Radtke, C. (2019). Update on hyperbaric oxygen therapy in burn treatment. Wiener Klinische Wochenschrift, 133(3), 137–143.



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