Hyperbaric chamber boosts healing - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Hyperbaric chamber boosts healing

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February 21, 2007

Albany --  Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital has one of the most successful wound care programs in the country. Their success rate is 25 percent better than the national average. Doctors in charge of the program credit Phoebe's hyperbaric chamber.

Two patients chat and watch TV, today they'll spend more than two hours in Phoebe's Hyperbaric chamber. Their bodies experience two and a half times the air pressure they would experience at sea level. It's all to help heal their wounds.

"It increase the amount of oxygen to the tissues in the bloodstream," said Dr. James Freeman.

The ordinary oxygen level inside your tissue is around 100 percent, the chamber increases that oxygen to two thousand percent helping wounds heal.

"It increase the ability of the body to fight bacteria, other problems, it increases the growth of new blood vessels which is extremely important in healing a wound, you have to grow new tissue," said Freeman. 

"The hyperbaric works in conjunction with antibiotics in helping the antibiotics fight infection, plus it also delivers oxygen to the bone so the cells can respond to the antibiotics and help kill the infection," said Wound Care Specialist Dr. Thomas Bozzuto. 

It's helping Albany doctors get better results with the biggest problem they see, diabetic ulcers. New test results show nearly 93% of patients wounds can be healed, pretty good when often the alternative ends in amputation.

"We save limbs and we save a lot in healthcare overall," Freeman said.

While the healing is slow, it usually takes nearly 20 treatments before a patient may see results and could take patients up to seven weeks to heal, doctors at Phoebe say it's well worth the alternative or slower care with less successful results.

The treatment can be costly, between $700 and $1200 per session. The Hyperbaric Chamber has been used to treat patients in Albany since 2001.

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