Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

01/13/06-Tyler

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

A treatment first developed to help deep-sea divers is now helping more than 100 people in East Texas each year. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is used by patients with burns, wounds and even radiation tissue injury. Most recently, doctors in West Virginia used it to treat the only survivor of the mine disaster who was overwhelmed with carbon monoxide.

Opal Lewis, 73, has an ulcer on the bottom of her foot. She first went to ETMC's Wound Healing Center for help. They recommended hyperbaric oxygen treatments. This is her 16th treatment, with four more to go. "You feel the oxygen coming in and but you don't feel any pressure or anything. You don't really feel anything," said Lewis.

Lewis' doctor, Dr. Stephen Rydzak, of the Wound Healing Center says the treatment is extremely effective for treating wounds that don't heal, by putting them in an atmosphere where there is 100 percent oxygen. "It increases the amount of oxygen in the plasma, the liquid part of the blood that gets to tissue that otherwise can't get oxygen," said Rydzak.

The treatment also works for those who have carbon monoxide poisoning. "We see burn patients, patients who have been exposed to carbon monoxide," said Rydzak. This procedure removes the poison from the red blood cells, allowing the tissue to receive oxygen.

Lewis says after dealing with her foot infection since September, the treatment has helped her a great deal. "There's not the soreness there that was there. It's the one thing I can feel. There's not much that shows on the surface. It's all inside." She says she's looking forward to putting the ordeal behind her and stepping out into a new place in her life.

Patients have to go through as few as two treatments to as many as 30, depending on what their condition is. Treatment time is about an hour and a half. Doctor Rydzak says side effects include claustrophobia, trouble with clearing your ears, or sinus pain.

Oralia ortega reporting, ortega@kltv.com

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