Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Animals
HBOT – its History, Procedures and its Science
Short History To Date
For human beings the knowledge of the therapeutic benefits of HBOT go back several hundred years, but did not really become mainstream until investigative medical techniques and advanced diagnostic equipment could provide unequivocal evidence of its significant therapeutic and healing properties.
The other drawback was the additional costs and inconvenience of providing the process itself, resulting in physical complications for the provision of any medical treatment or surgical procedure. That is to say, it requires the complication of encapsulating the patient in a pressurised, oxygen rich environment during and possibly after their medical procedures.
However, as available finance for any medical advanced science continued to rise and manufacturing methods and the effectiveness of materials improved, HBOT has now become an accepted procedure.
In the early 2000s, the cost/effectiveness equation moved in such a positive direction that HBOT for animals because another tool available to veterinaries and animal hospitals. Naturally, the most valuable animals benefited first, being thoroughbred racehorses. Now dogs are also likely to be included in the domestic animals being treated.
However, because of the costs and physical requirements, it is still considered a ‘luxury add-on’ additional treatment when it comes to the less exotic animals.
The Procedures and Equipment.
HBOT can be administered for various reasons and protocols.
ii) to speed up an animal’s recuperation because of poor health or an accident
iii) to speed up an animal’s recuperation after a medical treatment or surgical procedure
iv) to aid the effectiveness of a medical procedure
v) to support an on-going medical procedure (whereby the surgeons or vets are also subject to HBOT)
The unit (equipment) that allows HBOT to be administered is called a ‘Hyperbaric Chamber’ (“HBC”), which is a enclosed, airtight environment (large or small) that can easily remain intact when pressurised up to 3 times (3 atmospheres or 3 bar) that of normal outside air pressure which is designated as 1 atmosphere (just over 1 bar).
A patient can be alone in the HBC or be accompanied by humans who need to administer to the patient. It is possible to treat more than one patient at a time, dependant on the physical size of the HBC.
Prior to HBOT treatment if the animal patient needs to undergo some type of medical procedure prior to being given HBOT treatments, then this medical procedure is completed first. (It is possible that medical and surgical procedures can be implemented during HBOT, but the HBC would need to be large enough to accommodate the patient and any required surgeons/vets/grooms etc.)
The patient is confined within the HBC and it is securely sealed. Then the HBC is pressurised with very oxygen rich air (or even pure oxygen) until its internal pressure has increased to as high as 3 atmospheres. Any potential build-up of CO2 or other noxious gases is monitored and expunged if necessary.
The patient will remain in the HBOT environment for a period pre-specified by the surgeon or veterinary, varying from 30 minutes to several hours. The length of time depending on the reason for the HBOT treatment. It is likely that the patient will be recommended to have multiple treatment sessions, undergoing up to 10 or more for minor conditions and possibly more than 50 treatments for severe medical conditions, such as bone or tissue infections.
At the end of the session, the HBC is carefully and slowly depressurised and the patient released.
HBOT can be administered to support general good heath, support the immune system, assist certain antibiotics or for an extensive variety medical problems from the minor to very serious. Including external and internal wounds, surgical aftermath, inflammation, infertility, bacterial infections etc.
The medical science of HBOT is relatively simple and straightforward. The healing and therapeutic values of HBOT are solely based on most living entities ability to use the life giving properties and therapeutic action of the element we call oxygen (O2 in its gaseous form). The simple fact is that an abundant supply of oxygen within the bloodstream, tissues and bone marrow will significant aid and accelerate healing. An abundant oxygen supply greatly stimulates the growth of new blood vessels in bone and soft tissue, which during and after medical treatments and surgical procedures, allows an increase in oxygen-rich blood reaching the damaged or infected parts of the body.
A high oxygen level increases the ability of the white blood cells to kill bacteria in infected tissues. Anaerobic bacteria are killed directly by the high level of oxygen reaching infected tissues, even if normal circulation has been affected.
Note of Caution: As always, there can be ‘too much of a good thing’. That is, too much oxygen at to higher pressure (say over 5 bar) over to long a period can be detrimental. It can over saturate the body with oxygen; it is called ‘Oxygen Toxicity’. Sub-aqua divers who dive to extreme depths for long period can suffer from it, so they breathe a special ‘gas mix’ which is low in oxygen content.