Background: Many therapeutic options exist for chronic wounds. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is one such option. It may be used for diabetic, venous, arterial and pressure ulcers.
Methods: Following a systematic search of the literature, pooled analyses of predetermined clinical outcomes of randomized controlled trials involving the use of HBOT for chronic wounds were performed. Relative risks (RR) and number needed to treat (NNT) with 95 per cent confidence intervals (c.i.) were calculated.
Results: Six studies met the inclusion criteria. No appropriate trials were located for arterial and pressure ulcers. Pooled data from five trials on diabetic ulcers (118 patients) suggested a significant reduction in the risk of major amputation with HBOT (RR: 0.31; c.i. 0.13 to 0.71) with a NNT of 4 (c.i. 3 to 11). Sensitivity analyses did not alter the results. Ulcer healing and the rate of minor amputation were not influenced by HBOT. Data from one trial on venous ulcers suggested significant wound size reduction at the end of the treatment, but not at follow-up.
Conclusions: There is evidence that HBOT reduces the risk of major amputation in diabetic patients. For venous, arterial or pressure ulcers there is a lack of data. Further trials may be warranted.