wound care

Hyperbaric Medicine

Harnessing the healing power of hyperbaric oxygen therapy

At Adventist Health Portland’s wound healing and hyperbaric medicine clinic, people with wounds that won't heal, crush injuries, threatened limbs, cyanide poisoning, a vessel blocked by air or gas, problem skin grafts and flaps, and many other conditions can be helped by the effects of oxygen administered under high pressure.

How hyperbaric medicine works

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy works by "force-feeding" pure oxygen to the bloodstream, tissues and cells. By elevating the atmospheric pressure and increasing oxygen intake, oxygen is transferred through the membrane of the red blood cells at a much greater, more effective rate to saturate the bloodstream, tissue and cells.

This combination furthers your body's ability to kill germs and to rebuild damaged tissues. The effects help in various ways, depending on the specific condition under treatment. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a supplemental therapy, used in addition to the other treatments.



Hyperbaric oxygen therapy provides benefits in treating a variety of conditions. As an adjunct to treatment of wounds, hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been found to increase the healing potential of your body's natural mechanisms.

Benefits include:

  • Enhanced wound healing
  • Repair of damaged tissues
  • Increase blood flow to tissue with poor flow
  • Increase in white blood cells' defense to infection
  • Increase natural stem cell production
  • Reduction or elimination of the effects of toxic substances
  • Reduction or elimination of gas/air bubbles

Preparing for hyperbaric oxygen therapy

Once we have established that you can benefit from hyperbaric oxygen therapy, an order from your attending physician will get you started on the path to faster healing.

We will discuss with you specific preparations required before your treatment, including:

  • No smoking
  • Avoid certain medications
  • Postpone the test if you develop cold or flu symptoms
  • Remove all personal items such as jewelry, hearing aids, cosmetics, and plastic accessories

The treatment process

Our facility is equipped with multiple hyperbaric chambers, which can be separately pressurized or depressurized, offering individualized treatment for each patient. Treatment lasts approximately 90 to 120 minutes. During treatment, you will be awake and can read, listen to the radio or watch TV through the 100 percent clear chamber. A therapist will be available and will attend to you throughout the procedure.

Side effects

Generally, you will feel no side effects from hyperbaric oxygen therapy. During certain parts of the treatment, you may experience a sensation of fullness in your ears, similar to when you are flying in an airplane, as your eardrums respond to pressure changes. Prior to treatment, you will be taught several easy methods of clearing your ears.

Some patients may experience anxiety due to the enclosed chamber space. If this becomes a problem during your treatment our staff will respond to your concerns with their presence and experience and if necessary antianxiety medications are available.

For more information

To find out if you can benefit from hyperbaric oxygen therapy, ask your physician or call us at (503) 252-4325.