Hennepin Healthcare has been providing hyperbaric oxygen for patient care and research continuously since 1964. We are one of the few of institutions in the US providing 24/7 availability of hyperbaric oxygen for emergency patients.
What we treat
Hyperbaric oxygen is used for specific medical conditions and has long been used to resolve critical medical conditions such as gas gangrene, carbon monoxide poisoning, cerebral arterial gas embolism, and decompression sickness. It is also important therapy for other emergency conditions such as necrotizing fasciitis, sudden sensorineural hearing loss, compromised skin flaps or grafts, and chronic medical conditions such as refractory osteomyelitis, osteoradionecrosis, delayed soft tissue radiation injury, and foot ulcers in diabetic patients.
Frequently Asked Questions
Hyperbaric oxygen is a specialized medical treatment during which you breathe 100 percent oxygen from a mask or hood while you are inside a chamber room. Inside the chamber room, the atmospheric pressure is higher than normal. Our chambers are large enough for four to eight patients to receive treatment in one room at the same time.
Hyperbaric oxygen treatment involves exposing high concentrations of oxygen to your blood and tissues. This happens when you breathe 100 percent oxygen inside the pressurized chamber. Certain types of infections, tissue injuries, and poisonings can be treated effectively with hyperbaric medicine.
Hyperbaric oxygen has been used safely and effectively for more than 50 years to treat certain medical conditions such as carbon monoxide poisoning, gas gangrene, and decompression sickness, also known as diver's bends.
In the last 3 decades, hyperbaric oxygen has been shown to be effective in treating a number of other conditions, including, for example, bone infection that has not responded to customary treatment, damage to tissues from radiation therapy, crush injuries, diabetic foot ulcers, non-healing surgical sites, and tissue grafts and flaps that aren’t healing well.
Your doctor will need to make a request to the hyperbaric physician for consultation on your case. Then you may make an appointment for this consultation.
Most patients are treated once a day, 5 days a week. Emergency patients are treated when they need it, regardless of the day or time. Depending on your condition, the hyperbaric medicine physician will determine the number of treatments you need, as well as the duration of each treatment and the atmospheric pressure during the treatment.
During the treatment you will rest comfortably in your chair in the hyperbaric chamber. There are usually several patients in the room with you and there is always a medical attendant in the chamber also. The chamber is filled with pressurized air and you will breathe oxygen. Most treatments last about 2 hours.
During treatment, patients may read a book, do crossword puzzles, listen to music, or sleep. At the beginning of each treatment, you will feel the air pressure changes in your ears. You will receive instruction on how to equalize ear pressure prior to starting treatment. There are no unusual sensations associated with breathing 100 percent oxygen. "Air breaks" are given every 30 minutes and water is available to drink during these breaks. You will feel just as good at the end of the treatment as you did at the beginning. Treatment does not interfere with the ability to work or drive.
Your physician consultation at Hennepin Healthcare will include a complete review of your medical history and medical records, a physical examination, a recommendation for or against hyperbaric oxygen treatment, and detailed explanation of the benefits and risks of this treatment. You are encouraged to bring a current list of all your medications and to bring a family member with you. In most cases, you will not have a hyperbaric treatment on this day. A chest x-ray and some laboratory tests will be required before your first treatment. These may be done at your own physician’s office.
If you have questions, need to cancel an appointment, or have problems, call the Center for Hyperbaric Medicine at 612-873-7420 and ask to speak to a nurse. If you need to talk to a hyperbaric physician, the nurse will arrange that for you.
The facility meets all applicable ASME, NFPA, ISO, and FDA regulations. The Hyperbaric Medicine program at Hennepin Healthcare was recertified by the Undersea & Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS) "with distinction" in 2010, and again in 2022 (these certifications last four years). All facility personnel are certified in hyperbaric medicine within their job class. The technicians who operate the chambers are certified hyperbaric technicians and certified as care givers at least to the EMT or DMT level; the nurses are RNs experienced in critical care and certified as hyperbaric nurses; the physicians are board certified in Emergency Medicine and subspecialty certified by ABMS in Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine.
Hyperbaric Medicine is “Reaccredited – Level One - with Distinction” from the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society, 2022.