Hyperbaric oxygen therapy in the treatment of chronic refractory osteomyelitis: a preliminary report

Chang Gung Med J. 2003 Feb;26(2):114-21.


Background: Hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) has been proven to enhance bone and soft tissue healing in ischemic tissue in vitro and in vivo studies. Although only a few reports have been proven using controlled studies, this treatment modality remains encouraging for chronic refractory osteomyelitis. In this retrospective study, we reported the clinical results of HBO therapy for chronic refractory osteomyelitis.

Methods: From January through August 2000, 14 patients with chronic refractory osteomyelitis of the tibias treated with HBO were available for follow-up examination. According to the Cierny-Mader classification, all patients were classified as type III or IV osteomyelitis. Adequate debridement and parenteral antibiotic treatment in conjunction with HBO therapy at 2.5 atmospheres absolute for 120 minutes, and 5 days per week regimen was used in all patients. The patients were followed-up for an average of 15 months after completion of HBO therapy.

Results: The most common infecting microorganism was Staphylococcus aureus. Mixed infections were usually found in patients with open fractures. The average number of operations before HBO therapy was 5.4 including soft tissue reconstruction in 11 patients. The average number of HBO treatments was 33.6 times. There were no HBO related complications. No recurrence of infection was noted in 11 patients, which resulted in a success rate of 79%.

Conclusions: Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is effective and safe for chronic refractory osteomyelitis provided that patients had received appropriate medical and surgical management.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperbaric Oxygenation*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteomyelitis / microbiology
  • Osteomyelitis / therapy*
  • Staphylococcus aureus / isolation & purification