Recompression therapy involves the administration of 100% oxygen for several hours in a sealed chamber at pressures higher than 1 atmosphere. It is important to note that recompression therapy has 4 effects on the blood that can be beneficial in managing diving injuries.
- Increasing the oxygen concentration
- Reducing the concentration of nitrogen
- Reducing the size of the gas bubbles
- Decreasing the carbon monoxide concentration
Among divers, recompression therapy is utilized most often for decompression sickness and arterial gas embolism but can also be used in some cases to manage carbon monoxide poisoning.
The treatment involving a hyperbaric chamber with oxygen therapy is often represented as hyperbaric oxygen therapy when given mainly to provide large concentrations of oxygen rather than to manage decompression sickness or arterial gas embolism.
How recompression therapy works
If recompression therapy is started early, the better the outcome will be. Nevertheless, recompression might be more beneficial if initiated 48 hours after surfacing. Some chambers have enough oom for more than one individual while others have space for only one.
The treatment is usually done once or twice for about 45-300 minutes. In most cases, 100% oxygen is administered at 2.5 to 3 atmospheres of pressure.
Recompression therapy is considered safe, but the doctor will try to avoid using it on individuals who have the following:
- Chronic lung conditions
- Collapsed lung
- Sinus issues or colds
- Severe heart failure
- Seizure disorders
- Recent chest surgery
- Recent ear injury or surgery
Recompression therapy is typically avoided during pregnancy unless the life of the mother is in danger due to the potential detrimental effects of the elevated oxygen concentrations on the fetus.
The therapy can also trigger issues that are somewhat the same to those that manifest with barotrauma. It can also result to the development of momentary nearsightedness, low blood sugar levels or rarely, toxic effects on the lungs or even seizures.