Medical devices and procedures in the hyperbaric chamber

Diving Hyperb Med. 2014 Dec;44(4):223-7.


The aim of this paper is to present current controversies concerning the safety of medical devices and procedures under pressure in a hyperbaric chamber including: defibrillation in a multiplace chamber; implantable devices during hyperbaric oxygen treatment (HBOT) and the results of a recent European questionnaire on medical devices used inside hyperbaric chambers. Early electrical defibrillation is the only effective therapy for cardiac arrest caused by ventricular fibrillation or pulseless ventricular tachycardia. The procedure of defibrillation under hyperbaric conditions is inherently dangerous owing to the risk of fire, but it can be conducted safely if certain precautions are taken. Recently, new defibrillators have been introduced for hyperbaric medicine, which makes the procedure easier technically, but it must be noted that sparks and fire have been observed during defibrillation, even under normobaric conditions. Therefore, delivery of defibrillation shock in a hyperbaric environment must still be perceived as a hazardous procedure. Implantable devices are being seen with increasing frequency in patients referred for HBOT. These devices create a risk of malfunction when exposed to hyperbaric conditions. Some manufacturers support patients and medical practitioners with information on how their devices behave under increased pressure, but in some cases an individual risk-benefit analysis should be conducted on the patient and the specific implanted device, taking into consideration the patient's clinical condition, the indication for HBOT and the capability of the HBOT facility for monitoring and intervention in the chamber. The results of the recent survey on use of medical devices inside European hyperbaric chambers are also presented. A wide range of non-CE-certified equipment is used in European chambers.

Keywords: Hyperbaric medicine; equipment; implantable devices; patient monitoring; resuscitation; review article; safety; ventilators.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Defibrillators / adverse effects*
  • Defibrillators, Implantable / adverse effects
  • Equipment Safety
  • Equipment and Supplies*
  • Europe
  • Fires
  • Humans
  • Hyperbaric Oxygenation / instrumentation*
  • Implantable Neurostimulators / adverse effects*
  • Infusion Pumps, Implantable / adverse effects*
  • Monitoring, Physiologic