The most important effects of hyperbaric oxygen (HBO), for the surgeon, are the stimulation of leukocyte microbial killing, the enhancement of fibroblast replication, and increased collagen formation and neovascularization of ischemic tissue. Preoperative hyperbaric oxygen induces neovascularization in tissue with radionecrosis. Refractory osteomyelitis and necrotizing fasciitis appear to respond to adjunctive hyperbaric oxygen. Crush injury and compartment syndrome appear to benefit through preservation of ATP in cell membranes, which limits edema. Hyperbaric oxygen in burn injury permits shorter hospital stays, a reduced number of surgeries, and less fluid replacement. Skin grafts and flaps are reported to take more completely and more rapidly. The same mechanisms may apply in ischemic problem wounds such as infected diabetic extremities. Contraindications and side effects are described. Hyperbaric oxygen will not heal normal wounds more rapidly but may, under certain circumstances, induce problem wounds to heal more like normal ones.
©1991American Society of Plastic Surgeons