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Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)

If you experience a serious injury or a difficult-to-heal skin condition, sore or wound that could benefit from additional medical treatment, your doctor may recommend hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT).

Contact Our Team

For general questions about HBOT, call 605-322-8610.

If an urgent need arises, you can contact our 24/7 Emergency Hyperbaric Consult Line at 877-283-7237.

The Region’s Only HBOT Program

Take advantage of our hospital-based and medically guided hyperbaric medicine services—available in the Upper Midwest only at Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center since 1991. You receive expert care from medical professionals with specialized training in critical care and hyperbaric medicine, including Christopher Auvenshine, DO, a board certified hyperbaric physician.

Successful wound care management requires a team approach. That’s why our hyperbaric team manages all aspects of hyperbaric medicine and wound care while working with your primary care or specialist provider.

Advanced Technology for Faster Healing

If you receive a prescription for hyperbaric oxygen therapy, you’ll be pressurized with oxygen inside a comfortable and spacious Sechrist 3600 hyperbaric oxygen chamber. While in the chamber, you breathe 100 percent oxygen at pressures 2 to 3 times atmospheric pressure. While in the chamber you can relax comfortably while watching TV and movies or listening to music.

In addition to scheduled outpatient and inpatient appointments, Avera McKennan provides 24/7 HBOT for critical care patients and emergency circumstances.

Frequently Asked Questions about Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

How does HBOT work?

Increasing the pressure in the HBOT chamber increases the amount of oxygen delivered to your blood in a way that can only be accomplished in a hyperbaric chamber. Increasing the oxygen levels in your blood can:

  • Stimulate healing in chronic wounds
  • Support tissues with acute infections
  • Support vital organs and tissues during treatment for conditions such as carbon monoxide poisoning

Hyperbaric oxygen treatments, along with proper wound care management, may be indicated to help your wound heal more quickly.

What types of conditions does HBOT treat?

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy may be recommended for wide variety of difficult to treat wounds, as well as acute or life-threatening conditions such as:

  • Acute carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Aggressive life- or limb-threatening wounds
  • Certain types of sudden hearing or vision loss
  • Chronic non-healing wounds of the legs, including some diabetic wounds
  • Decompression illness
  • Difficult to treat bone infections
  • Failed skin grafts or flaps
  • Wounds created from the late effects of radiation from cancer treatment

Because we closely follow recommendations from The Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS), we only treat disease processes and conditions included on their list of indications and protocols, which is based on worldwide research.

How do I know if HBOT is right for me?

Most patients receive a referral for HBOT from a primary care physician, specialist or surgeon, but a referral is not required.

During the initial consultation, you’ll be asked to review your current medical status – including medications, symptoms of illness and tobacco use – with the hyperbaric physician.

If it’s determined that you’d benefit from hyperbaric oxygen treatments, you’ll be scheduled for HBOT at the Avera McKennan Hyperbaric Medicine unit located on the first floor of Avera McKennan.

Before starting treatments you can also schedule an orientation which includes a tour and the opportunity to discuss scheduling, expectations and ask any question you may have. Family members are welcome to join you.

How long does the treatment last and how many treatments will I need?

HBOT treatments last approximately two hours. Appointments are typically offered once or twice a day, 5 to 7 days per week.

The total number of treatments required varies based on your condition and response to HBOT. Some patients with chronic wounds may need as many as 20 to 60 treatments. You’ll receive a personalized recommendation, which our team will review with you prior to treatment.

How do I prepare for HBOT?

Once you’re scheduled for HBOT, you’ll be asked to:

  • Avoid caffeine and smoking* four hours before your HBOT appointment
  • Arrive at the Avera McKennan Hyperbaric Oxygen unit 15 minutes before your appointment
  • Wear only the 100 percent cotton clothing we provide during your treatment.

*If you currently use tobacco of any kind, we also highly recommend that you stop in order to receive the most effective treatment. Chemicals found in all types of tobacco (smoking or chewing), especially nicotine, have a severely negative effect on wound healing. Avoiding secondhand smoke is also highly recommended. If you need assistance eliminating or reducing a nicotine habit, our staff is available to help you find options.

Please note that the following items are prohibited during HBOT treatment:

  • All electronic devices (watches, cell phones, tablets, computers, music devices, etc.)
  • All street clothing, including underwear, jewelry and watches
  • Certain wound dressings (discuss with your care team)
  • Dentures, hearing aids and prosthetic devices
  • Hairspray, hair gel, make-up, nail polish, perfume and cologne
  • Heat wraps, heat pads and hand warmers
  • Insulin pump
  • Newspapers and books
  • Petroleum or Vaseline® products
  • Wig or hairpiece

If you have an implanted device, such as a pacemaker, pain pump or other device, discuss this with your hyperbaric physician and care team prior to starting treatment.

What do I do during the treatment?

During a treatment session, you’ll lie on a bed that slides into the hyperbaric chamber. While in the chamber, you can watch TV or movies, listen to music or take a nap.

What does it feel like in the chamber?

You’ll be given special clothing to wear during your treatment and a sheet or blanket as you prefer.

You won’t feel much different while inside the chamber other than needing to clear your ears – also known as making them “pop” – during the compression phase. It’s similar to what you’d do while flying in an airplane. Our team is available to help you with ear-clearing techniques.

You may also experience some popping or crackling sounds after the treatment. If this is the case, our HBOT therapist can offer solutions.

Can I bring books, magazines or electronic devices in the chamber to read?

For safety reasons, paper products and electronic devices are not allowed inside the chamber. Most people watch TV or movies, listen to music or take a nap.

Can I take anything in the chamber to drink?

Yes, we can put water or juice in a squeeze bottle for you to drink during your treatment. Prior to your treatment, we recommend that you eat a healthy meal and closely monitor your blood sugar. It’s important to note that HBOT can affect blood sugar levels in patients with diabetes.

Are there any side effects to HBOT?

There are a few possible side effects that your hyperbaric physician and care team will review with you. The most common side effects include:

  • Feeling tired after your treatment
  • Temporary vision changes – your vision should return to normal after your treatments are completed.

Please let your HBOT physician know if you have active cataracts prior to treatment.

If I live out of town, is there a place for me to stay while I’m receiving HBOT?

Many of our patients stay with friends or family while receiving treatment. There are also several hotels in Sioux Falls that give discounts to Avera patients. The Walsh Family Village, on the Avera McKennan campus, may be an option, but availability is limited. Discover more lodging options.

Will my insurance cover HBOT?

We work with all types of health insurance, Medicare and Medicaid. Before receiving treatment, contact your insurance provider for pre-authorization requirements and to find out what your plan covers.

Find Wound Care Close to Home

Get expert, compassionate care for diabetic or pressure ulcers, surgically created wounds, such as ostomy or fistula, other non-healing conditions or burns.

Wound Care

Call 911 for Emergencies

Call 911 to get emergency attention for wounds, trauma, burns or major injuries.

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