Skip to Content

Hyperbaric medicine

Hyperbaric medicine uses increased atmospheric pressure as a treatment method. This commonly involves hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), to provide increased amounts of oxygen to the body and reinforce healing.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) in Uptown Denver

Our priority is your healing.

The nationally recognized Hyperbaric Medicine Center at Presbyterian/St. Luke's Medical Center has the only hyperbaric-certified team in the Denver metro area. We also have the only multiplace hyperbaric chamber in the entire Rocky Mountain West region. This enables us to focus entirely on your healing and care.

Expert advice, available 24/7

Free medical advice is just a phone call away. Our nurses help you understand your symptoms, treatment options and procedures. They will also help you find a provider or specialist and schedule an appointment.

Free medical advice is just a phone call away. Our nurses help you understand your symptoms, treatment options and procedures. They will also help you find a provider or specialist and schedule an appointment.

Hyperbaric medicine treatments

Over the course of many gradual treatments, hyperbaric therapy can be life-changing. The process requires a period of high oxygen content in the tissues, followed by a period of lower oxygen, which starts a momentum of healing.

What is HBOT?

During HBOT, you breathe in 100 percent oxygen within a contained chamber to not only fight infection, but also repair damaged tissue through the growth of new blood vessels. Inside the chamber, the air pressure is gradually increased to two-to-three times greater than normal atmospheric pressure, allowing the lungs to safely take in more oxygen than normal. The red blood cells, which usually carry most of the oxygen in the blood, are quickly filled, and the extra oxygen is dissolved directly in the plasma, the liquid portion of the blood.

HBOT is painless, but afterwards, your ears may feel full. We understand that this type of innovative therapy can raise many questions, and we are here to make sure all are answered so you are as comfortable as possible.

What is a hyperbaric chamber like?

The three cylindrical pressure chambers measure eight feet across, and are linked in an L-shape. Two chambers are designed to treat critically ill patients and together can accommodate up to 18 patients and six clinical staff. The third chamber links the two-patient hyperbaric chambers and allows staff and equipment access without affecting treatments in progress.

Outside the chamber, trained technicians control the chamber's environment using a wide panel of gauges. Inside, you are attended to throughout your treatment by our hyperbaric staff, which includes a dedicated group of physicians, critical care nurses and respiratory therapists. By providing concentrated care in the hyperbaric chamber, we are uniquely equipped to treat those who may be particularly sick and/or critically ill.

Is HBOT like physical therapy?

The process of receiving hyperbaric oxygen is more in line with a surgery than physical therapy. While technicians and nurses provide some of the hands-on care, your hyperbaric medicine specialist directs and supervises all aspects of the treatment regimen. Hyperbaric oxygen has the capability to heal like no other medical treatment. However, it also has the ability to harm. It should only be done under the direct supervision of a medical specialist.

How often should I get HBOT?

That depends largely on your medical condition. While some injuries, like carbon monoxide poisoning or decompression sickness, can often be treated with a single hyperbaric treatment, radiation injuries, necrotizing soft tissue infections, extremity risks and chronic wounds require additional treatments.

Studies show that twice-daily treatments, except for critical illnesses, do not increase the healing rate or decrease the healing time. We find a treatment schedule of at least five out of seven days ensures consistent, ongoing healing.

What’s the difference between HBOT and oxygen bars?

Breathing oxygen at ordinary atmospheric pressures for short periods of time provides little benefit for any medical conditions. Higher concentrations of oxygen for longer periods of time can cause significant lung damage. As such, low doses of oxygen have little effect on most of the problems that we treat with hyperbaric oxygen, and higher doses must be given in a controlled fashion to limit the risk of complications.

Where can I get HBOT?

We offer HBOT at The Hyperbaric Medicine Center, located on the first floor of our hospital. From the main entrance, go up the stairs to the right of Dazbog Coffee. Walk to the end of the hallway, past the Career Center. Turn left and just past the "B" elevators, turn right and walk down a long hallway. Take the second hallway to the left. The Hyperbaric Medicine Center is on the left side of the hallway at the very end.

Conditions treated with hyperbaric medicine

Hyperbaric medicine is highly beneficial because it not only treats such a wide range of conditions, but it does so without surgical intervention, sparing your body of any additional stress. While sometimes surgery is required in conjunction with HBOT, it is not always necessary.

Acute arterial insufficiency

Acute arterial insufficiency occurs when tissues do not receive enough oxygen or arterial blood supply, often as the result of trauma, surgery, frostbite or a blood clot. This condition can lead to an increased formation of blood clots or narrowing of blood vessels.

The high blood levels of oxygen achieved by HBOT can deliver sufficient oxygen to aid blood vessels in recovering to their normal function.

Chronic bone infections

When bone is exposed in an open wound, or exposed to microorganisms by the blood, it is prone to becoming infected. Removal of dead bone and intravenous antibiotic therapy remain the mainstays of treatment for bone infections.

HBOT can provide the oxygen needed to aid in white blood cell function when standard surgical and antibiotic treatments have failed to resolve a bone infection.

Decompression sickness (DCS) and arterial gas embolism (AGE)

Also known as diver's disease and the bends, DCS occurs as a result of a reduction in the surrounding air pressure. This most commonly affects scuba divers and others who work in compressed air environments. When scuba diving, for example, more oxygen and nitrogen dissolve in body tissues, and while the tissues absorb the extra oxygen, the blood must wash out the excess nitrogen during decompression. During or after ascent, this excess nitrogen gas can form bubbles in the tissues just like the carbon dioxide bubbles that form when a carbonated beverage is opened. These bubbles can, in turn, cause the bends.

AGE occurs when gas is trapped within the lungs during ascent, forcing bubbles into the bloodstream. This blocks the flow of blood and can damage the lining of blood vessels that supply blood to critical organs such as the brain.

HBOT is the recommended treatment for DCS or AGE and is best administered within a few hours after the onset of symptoms. While most commonly, you would only need one hyperbaric oxygen treatment to receive the greatest benefit, continued treatments may be recommended until no further improvement can be observed.

Nonhealing wounds

Nonhealing wounds are wounds that do not heal with conventional medical and surgical treatment. A large supply of oxygen is required for effective wound healing.

Scarring of tissue, due to radiation, chronic infection, repeated surgeries or inflammatory disease processes, such as vasculitis, decreases the blood supply to tissue at the microscopic level, interfering with healing. HBOT, or a combination of plastic/reconstructive surgery and HBOT, often allows for more effective healing.

Post-radiation healing complications

Radiation therapy is commonly used in the treatment of cancer and has cured, or extended the lives, of untold numbers of cancer survivors. However, radiation can have an adverse effect on normal tissue, primarily by causing inflammation of the tiny capillaries that provide oxygen to all the tissues in the radiation field. Over time, these capillaries scar, preventing blood flow and oxygen from reaching the tissues.

HBOT raises tissue oxygen levels above normal to restore healing capacity to tissues otherwise unable to repair themselves. Recent studies have also shown that HBOT leads to the release of stem cells from the bone marrow. Migration of these stem cells to tissues changed by radiation may be an important factor in the increased healing associated with HBOT.

Although the process is slow, often requiring several weeks of treatment, HBOT is a useful tool for healing tissues damaged by radiation therapy.

Tour our facilities

Watch this video to get a virtual tour of The Hyperbaric Medicine Center.

Our Hyperbaric medicine Locations

Currently Viewing:

Presbyterian/St. Luke's Medical Center
1719 E 19th Ave
Denver, CO 80218
 (720) 754 - 6000

Currently Viewing:

Presbyterian/St. Luke's Medical Center
1719 E 19th Ave
Denver, CO 80218
 (720) 754 - 6000
Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children
2001 N. High St
Denver, CO 80205
 (720) 754 - 1000

0.1 miles

Rose Medical Center
4567 E 9th Ave
Denver, CO 80220
 (303) 320 - 2121

2.0 miles