Scientific Online Resource System

Journal of the Union of Scientists - Varna. Medicine and Ecology Series

Risks and safety aspects of hyperbaric oxygen treatment

Krasimira Tsankova


Introduction: Hyperbaric oxygenation (HBO) is a clinical method of treatment with oxygen at increased ambient pressure within a chamber. HBO therapy is a non-invasive procedure and has been used for decades in a number of diseases, but is characterized by some features and specific potential sources of risk in addition to the usual risks associated with medical procedures.

Aim: The aim of the present study is to investigate and discuss the main risks and safety aspects associated with hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

Materials and Methods: A review and analysis of publications available in PubMed, Medline, ScienceDirect databases, scientific literature, regulations and guidelines of various organizations were conducted.

Results: Ensuring safety and risk management in hyperbaric medicine are considered in several aspects: patient safety, safety of staff, technical safety in relation to medical equipment. The main hazards and possible complications related to the hyperbaric environment and the breathing mixtures are presented. The analysis of the literature data shows that the most common complications of HBO are ear pain or discomfort due to the problems with middle ear pressure equalization, as well as manifestations of claustrophobia and anxiety in some patients, with variable frequency of reported cases in different studies. More severe and serious complications associated with oxygen toxicity and decompression sickness are rare.

Conclusion: Risk assessment and preventive measures, appropriate training of staff and patients, and compliance with work and safety rules can reduce or eliminate HBO therapy-related complications and incidents.


safety, hazards, hyperbaric medicine

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