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patient education : 09153--UVA Hyperbaric Treatment Center

Information for patients having Hyperbaric therapy (HBO) at UVA.

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    UVA Hyperbaric Treatment Center

    What is HBO?

    Hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) therapy is a medical treatment in which patients breathe 100 percent oxygen at higher than atmospheric pressure for a specified period of time.

    The combination of increased oxygen and pressure allows the blood to carry greater amounts of oxygen to areas of the body that need healing. The extra oxygen is beneficial in treating a number of conditions.

    Is HBO covered by insurance?

    In general, third-party payers (insurance companies, health care plans, Medicare, etc.) reimburse for HBO treatments for the conditions we treat at our facility, such as:

    • Chronic diabetic wounds of the lower extremities
    • Tissue or bone damage in areas that received radiation therapy
    • Skin flaps and grafts with poor blood supply
    • Gas gangrene (a specific bacterial infection)
    • Crush injuries
    • Air or gas embolism (air in a blood vessel blocking blood flow)
    • Chronic infections of bone (osteomyelitis) which do not heal with other treatments

    How Do I Prepare for HBO Therapy?

    Please follow these instructions before each treatment:

    • On the day of your appointment, call if you have cold or flu symptoms, (fever, sore throat), nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or a general aching feeling.
    • DO NOT SMOKE.  TWO (2) hours before and immediately after treatment, you should not be around anyone who is smoking. Smoking decreases the amount of oxygen in the blood and makes the therapy less effective. This “No Smoking” rule applies to ALL tobacco use.
    • Eat a light nutritional meal or snack 2 to 3 hours before treatment
    • Take a bath or shower before a treatment if needed to remove lotion, oils, makeup, etc.
    • Remove all nail polish, hair spray, makeup, deodorant, hard contact lenses, loose dentures, hearing aids, jewelry, watches, metal frame eyeglasses, or other devices.
    • Do not put petroleum dressings on a wound. Plastic bandages are okay
    • You or any family with you must not bring any matches, cigarettes, lighters or any flammable items.
    • ¨ Please arrive 15-20 minutes before your appointment time. We will ask you about your health, take vital signs, and do a brief assessment. 

    What will happen when I come for an HBO treatment?

    • We will give you 100% cotton clothing to wear. You will remove all underwear. 
    • You will be placed in an HBO chamber for about 120 minutes. A specially trained nurse will be with you the whole time.
    • When the door closes you will hear the oxygen begin to move. Pressure will build slowly. You may have a “popping” or full sensation in your ears. The nurse will teach you several different ways to clear your ears.
    • You can rest or watch TV during the treatment.  After 90 minutes at full pressure, the pressure will be released slowly and you will feel the “popping” or full sensation in your ears again.
    • Patients sometimes feel tired after a treatment. You may want to have someone drive you to your first appointment. 

    How do I contact the UVA Hyperbaric Medicine Service?

    Patients are referred for HBO therapy by their primary care physician or physician specialist. Our physicians will assess you to see if HBO is right for you. If so, a treatment schedule will be set up. It is important you come for every treatment. 

    We are located on the “Zero” level of the main Hospital.  There is convenient, free parking in the Lee Street Garage. You will be sent a map with your appointment schedule. 

    Please call Hyperbaric Medicine with any questions.

     Phone:  434-982-3999                          Fax:  434-243-1426


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