Hyperbaric oxygen therapy: Can it be a novel supportive therapy in COVID-19?

Indian J Anaesth. 2020 Oct;64(10):835-841. doi: 10.4103/ija.IJA_613_20. Epub 2020 Oct 1.

Abstract

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a pandemic caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV2). Although 85% of infected patients remain asymptomatic, 5% show severe symptoms such as hypoxaemic respiratory failure and multiple end organ dysfunction (MODS) requiring intensive care unit (ICU) admission with a mortality rate of about 2.8%. Since a definitive treatment is yet to be identified, preventive and supportive strategies remain the mainstay of management. Supportive measures such as oxygen therapy with nasal cannula, face mask, noninvasive ventilation, mechanical ventilation and even extreme measures such as extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) fail to improve oxygenation in some patients. Hence, hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) has been proposed as a supportive strategy to improve oxygenation in COVID-19 patients. HBOT is known to increase tissue oxygenation by increasing the amount of dissolved oxygen in plasma. HBOT also mitigates tissue inflammation thus reducing the ill effects of cytokine storm in COVID-19 patients. Though there is limited literature available on HBOT in COVID-19 patients, considering the present need for additional supportive therapy to improve oxygenation, HBOT has been proposed as a novel supportive treatment in COVID-19 patients.

Keywords: Adult; COVID-19; coronavirus; hyperbaric oxygenation; respiratory distress syndrome.

Publication types

  • Review