Clinical Utility of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy in Genitourinary Medicine

Med Gas Res. 2018 Apr 18;8(1):29-33. doi: 10.4103/2045-9912.229601. eCollection Jan-Mar 2018.


Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is a medical technique which delivers oxygen at ambient pressures to increase the amount of dissolved oxygen in the blood and oxygen distribution to tissues. There are several beneficial properties of HBOT concomitant with elevated oxygen distribution in tissue including anti-inflammation, angiogenesis through vascular endothelial growth factor proliferation, augmented fibroblast activity through fibroblast growth factor proliferation, tissue and wound repair, enhancement of lymphocyte and macrophage activity, increased male testosterone secretion, and bactericidal activity. Given its renown in treating conditions such as decompression sickness and carbon monoxide poisoning, HBOT is making gradual strides for use in genitourinary medicine due to its low risk and likeliness to achieve favorable results. Early success has been observed in the treatment of Fournier's gangrene, radiation cystitis, and interstitial cystitis via the elimination of clinical symptoms such as pain. Further indications that have exhibited positive outcomes despite HBOT's ambiguous mechanism of action include cyclophosphamide hemorrhagic cystitis, emphysematous cystitis, pelvic radiation disease, radiation-induced proctopathy, dystrophic calcification of the prostate, erectile dysfunction secondary to urethroplasty, priapism, abnormal renal morphology, blood testosterone, calcific uremic arteriolopathy, and hidradenitis suppurativa. For other indications, multicenter studies must be conducted to determine HBOT's true efficacy, mechanism of action, risks, and advantages over conventional treatments.

Keywords: Fournier's gangrene; hemorrhagic cystitis; hyperbaric oxygen therapy; interstitial cystitis; priapism; radiation cystitis.

Publication types

  • Review