Hyperbaric chambers - hyperbaric medicine in the modern world

The benefits of hyperbaric medicine subsequently were observed for split-thickness skin graft acceptance, flap survival and salvage, wound re-epithelization, and acute thermal burns. These studies lent credibility to the therapeutic employment of HBO therapy. This fostered the establishment of organized scientific congresses and societies such as the International Congress on Hyperbaric Oxygen and the Undersea Medical Society. Unfortunately, as the availability of hyperbaric medicine chambers increased, the indiscriminate and inappropriate use of the chamber for a variety of medical conditions by practitioners searching for a "cure-all" therapy resulted in a backlash from the scientific society, once again tarnishing the credibility of hyperbaric medicine. As a result, by the late 1970s, the Undersea Medical Society had formulated guidelines for the use of hyperbaric therapy.

Researchers conducting wound-healing studies continued to try to take advantage of the angiogenic properties of increasing oxygen gradients resulting from hyperbaric therapy. Foot wounds from diabetes, radiation ulcers, and other ischemic wounds have been manipulated and successfully treated with HBO. Prospective blinded randomized trials and well-executed laboratory studies continue to further define the role of hyperbaric therapy in medical therapeutics.

The most recent and most significant documented advances with Hyperbaric Medicine, have emerged with the utilization of high tech investigation including isotopic tracers with Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT).

MRI and SPECT performed as a pre and post hyperbaric evaluation have provided valuable insights into the mechanisms and actions of Hyperbaric Medicine through oxygenation. Conditions that have previously been considered to have a poor prognosis, including brain injuries, stroke and neurological based conditions, have been greatly improved with Hyperbaric Medicine and continue, today, to be among the areas of research.

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