Systematic review: The safety and efficacy of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for inflammatory bowel disease

Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2014 Jun;39(11):1266-75. doi: 10.1111/apt.12753. Epub 2014 Apr 16.


Background: Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) provides 100% oxygen under pressure, which increases tissue oxygen levels, relieves hypoxia and alters inflammatory pathways. Although there is experience using HBOT in Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, the safety and overall efficacy of HBOT in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is unknown.

Aim: To quantify the safety and efficacy of HBOT for Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC). The rate of adverse events with HBOT for IBD was compared to the expected rate of adverse events with HBOT.

Methods: MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane Collaboration and Web of Knowledge were systematically searched using the PRISMA standards for systematic reviews. Seventeen studies involving 613 patients (286 CD, 327 UC) were included.

Results: The overall response rate was 86% (85% CD, 88% UC). The overall response rate for perineal CD was 88% (18/40 complete healing, 17/40 partial healing). Of the 40 UC patients with endoscopic follow-up reported, the overall response rate to HBOT was 100%. During the 8924 treatments, there were a total of nine adverse events, six of which were serious. The rate of adverse events with HBOT in IBD is lower than that seen when utilising HBOT for other indications (P < 0.01). The risk of bias across studies was high.

Conclusions: Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a relatively safe and potentially efficacious treatment option for IBD patients. To understand the true benefit of HBOT in IBD, well-controlled, blinded, randomised trials are needed for both Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Colitis, Ulcerative / therapy*
  • Crohn Disease / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Hyperbaric Oxygenation / adverse effects
  • Hyperbaric Oxygenation / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome