Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for treating acute surgical and traumatic wounds.

Anne Eskes, Dirk T. Ubbink, Maarten Lubbers, Cees Lucas, Hester Vermeulen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is used as a treatment for acute wounds (such as those arising from surgery and trauma) however the effects of HBOT on wound healing are unclear.  To determine the effects of HBOT on the healing of acute surgical and traumatic wounds. We searched the Cochrane Wounds Group Specialised Register (25 August 2010), the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) (The Cochrane Library 2010, Issue 3), Ovid MEDLINE (1950 to August Week 2 2010 ), Ovid MEDLINE (In-Process & Other Non-Indexed Citations August 24, 2010), Ovid EMBASE (1980 to 2010, Week 33) and EBSCO CINAHL (1982 to 20 August 2010). Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) comparing HBOT with other interventions or comparisons between alternative HBOT regimens. Two review authors conducted selection of trials, risk of bias assessment, data extraction and data synthesis independently. Any disagreements were referred to a third review author.  Three trials involving 219 participants were included. The studies were clinically heterogeneous, therefore a meta-analysis was inappropriate.One trial (48 participants with burn wounds undergoing split skin grafts) compared HBOT with usual care and reported a significantly higher complete graft survival associated with HBOT (95% healthy graft area risk ratio (RR) 3.50; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.35 to 9.11). A second trial (36 participants with crush injuries) reported significantly more wounds healed with HBOT than with sham HBOT (RR 1.70; 95% CI 1.11 to 2.61) and fewer additional surgical procedures required with HBOT: RR 0.25; 95% CI 0.06 to 1.02 and significantly less tissue necrosis: RR 0.13; 95% CI 0.02 to 0.90). A third trial (135 people undergoing flap grafting) reported no significant differences in complete graft survival with HBOT compared with dexamethasone (RR 1.14; 95% CI 0.95 to 1.38) or heparin (RR 1.21; 95% CI 0.99 to 1.49).Many of the predefined secondary outcomes of the review, including mortality, pain scores, quality of life, patient satisfaction, activities daily living, increase in transcutaneous oxygen pressure (TcpO(2)), amputation, length of hospital stay and costs, were not reported. All three trials were at unclear or high risk of bias. There is a lack of high quality, valid research evidence regarding the effects of HBOT on wound healing. Whilst two small trials suggested that HBOT may improve the outcomes of skin grafting and trauma these trials were at risk of bias. Further evaluation by means of high quality RCTs is needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)CD008059
JournalCochrane database of systematic reviews (Online)
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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