Oxygen in wound healing and infection

World J Surg. 2004 Mar;28(3):312-5. doi: 10.1007/s00268-003-7398-5. Epub 2004 Feb 17.


It is a fundamental clinical observation that wounds do not heal in tissue that does not bleed, and they almost always heal in tissue that bleeds extensively. Continuous supply of oxygen to the tissue through microcirculation is vital for the healing process and for resistance to infection. Evaluation of tissue perfusion and oxygenation is important in all types of wound patients. Monitoring systems should measure the hemodynamic situation and the ability of the cardiovascular system to deliver an adequate volume of oxygen to meet the metabolic demands of the peripheral tissue. Oxygen therapy is important in relation to both healing and resistance to infections. External factors have been shown to significantly decrease the peripheral oxygen supply, and supplementary perioperative oxygen to reduce the surgical wound infection rate by one- half in patients undergoing colorectal resection. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy may be beneficial in situations where the nutritive flow and oxygen supply to the healing tissue are compromised by local injury, and particularly if anaerobic infection is present. However, the definitive proof for the effect and indications of this therapy in wound healing still has to be established. It can be concluded that adequate delivery of oxygen to the wound tissue is vital for optimal healing and resistance to infection. Assessment of perfusion and oxygenation is essential for the wound patient, as well as the treating personnel. The indication for hyperbaric oxygen treatment still needs to be defined. During wound healing the continuity and function of the damaged tissue are re-established. This is only possible through a restoration of the microcirculation and thereby the nutrition to the tissue. The main component of the nutrition is oxygen, which is critically important for healing a wound by production of granulation tissue and for ensuring resistance against infection. This has been shown experimentally, but recently a short period of supplementary oxygen has been shown to decrease wound complications in clinical practice as well.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperbaric Oxygenation / methods
  • Male
  • Oximetry
  • Oxygen / therapeutic use*
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Assessment
  • Surgical Wound Infection / prevention & control
  • Surgical Wound Infection / therapy*
  • Wounds and Injuries / physiopathology
  • Wounds and Injuries / therapy*


  • Oxygen