What is a Hyperbaric Chamber?

Commonly associated with divers, a Hyperbaric chamber is a pressure vessel used to treat a range of patients, including divers, suffering from various disorders such as decompression sickness, Air embolism, severe carbon monoxide poisoning and more.

Once sealed, an operator can control the atmospheric pressure inside the chamber. This means the pressure conditions a diver experiences at varying depths in the water can be simulated.

The word ‘hyperbaric’ is derived from the Greek words ‘hyper’ (υπερ) for above normal and ‘baros’ (βάρος) for weight.

Types of Hyperbaric Chamber

  • diving chamber
  • recompression chamber
  • decompression chamber
  • hyperbaric chamber
  • hyperbaric oxygen therapy chamber

Often these terms are used interchangeably. The names reflect the different purposes that the chambers are designed for, rather than their capability.

Monoplace Chambers

Hyperbaric chambers that provide a safe, comfortable environment for the treatment of a single patient.

Multiplace Chambers

Hyperbaric chambers that are used when there are multiple patients, or when practitioners need to be present.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy / Treatment (HBOT)

Oxygen forms about 21% of the air we breathe.

When medical treatments require us to breathe a higher percentage of oxygen, an oxygen mask would commonly be used.

In some situations, it may be necessary to give even more oxygen than can be delivered by ordinary masks.

Placing a patient in a hyperbaric chamber with a pressure greater than 1 atmosphere means that more oxygen can be absorbed.

This is called Hyperbaric Oxygenation (HBO), more commonly known as Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT).

Treatments

HBOT is used by the NHS to treat decompression illness and gas embolism.

It is also a useful prime treatment and/or adjunct therapy for: diabetic lower extremity ulcers; venous ulcers; crush injuries; grafts and flaps; necrotising soft tissue infections; osteoradionecrosis; orthopaedics; sudden deafness; thermal burns; acute ophthalmological ischaemia.

Read more about these on the Conditions We Treat page.