Bedsores — also called pressure ulcers and decubitus ulcers — are injuries to skin and underlying tissue.
They are caused by prolonged pressure on the skin which limits blood flow to the area and they commonly develop where bones are close to the skin, such as the heels, ankles, back, elbows and hips. Blood flow is essential in delivering oxygen and other nutrients to tissues. Without oxygen, skin and nearby tissues are damaged and might eventually die. Other factors related to limited mobility can make the skin vulnerable to damage and contribute to the development of pressure sores.
People are at risk if they are bedridden, use a wheelchair or are unable to change their position.
Bedsores fall into one of several stages based on their depth, severity and other characteristics. The degree of skin and tissue damage ranges from red, unbroken skin to a deep injury involving muscle and bone. Pressure sores can also become infected.
A skin graft is the relocation of a portion of the skin without its blood supply whereas a flap refers to the relocation of one or more tissue components including skin, deeper tissue, muscle and pieces of bone moved with its blood supply. Blood supply to the skin graft or flap can be impaired causing poor healing.
For these skin grafts or flaps to be successful, they need a healthy transplant site with a sufficient oxygen supply. If the wound site where the skin graft or flap is being transplanted doesn’t have enough oxygen, the likeliness of it failing is very high.
Studies have shown that preoperative or postoperative HBO treatment helps to improve the survival rate of skin grafts and free flaps.
How HBOT can help it?
Many doctors now offer HBOT to treat people with severe bed sores because studies have reinforced the benefits of using HBOT therapy to speed the rate of healing for pressure sores of all types by increasing the delivery of oxygen to the affected areas.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been used as an adjunct therapy before and or after a skin graft or flap transplant and is often recommended as the increased oxygen has been shown to increase the success rates of the transplant.
Using HBOT before the procedure can help to prepare the wound site as it may promote healing after the transplant as it increases the blood flow and oxygen levels to the area and may reduce recovery time.
HBOT may also be used after the graft as it may improve the chances of survival of the graft or flap. It does this by reducing oxygen deprivation and likeliness of infection and enhancing fibroblast function (connective tissue) and collagen synthesis.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is recognised and is an available treatment for Pressure Sores, Skin Grafts & Flaps under the EU Regulation on Cross-Border Healthcare 2014 in health services across Europe and for example in the Emile Mayrisch Hospital, Luxembourg https://www.chem.lu/