Hyperbaric Chamber Types


Early experimentation with hyperbaric chambers dates to the 17th century. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy emerged in the 1960’s as a treatment for decompression sickness in scuba divers. In keeping with these undersea origins, a hyperbaric treatment session is commonly called a “dive”.

A hyperbaric chamber is a pressure vessel. In the early days of hyperbaric medicine manufacturers and engineers adapted the most suitable ready-made pressure vessels: boilers. Steel cylinders built to endure high internal pressures over many years of continuous use, boilers were easily outfitted for human occupancy by adding hatches and portholes.

Soon the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and others were defining new standards for the safe design and construction of pressure vessels for human occupancy (PVHO). These standards now provide critical assurance that a hyperbaric chamber is suitable for medical use.

Today, the majority of monoplace hyperbaric chambers have clear acrylic walls and an increasing number of multiplace chambers are rectangular spaces little different than an ordinary treatment room. The leading chamber manufacturers incorporate automatic fire suppression, entertainment systems, computer controls, and other technologic advancements to enhance safety, patient comfort, and clinical support.

Monoplace Hyperbaric Chambers

ETC monoplace hyperbaric chamber
Patient reclining in a monoplace chamber.
Note the entertainment system and intercom.
Image courtesy of ETC Biomedical Systems.

A monoplace hyperbaric chamber holds one patient at a time, as the name implies. During treatment the entire atmosphere inside the monoplace chamber is pressurized and filled with 100% oxygen. To prevent oxygen toxicity, short “air breaks” allow the patient to breathe normal air.

One of the most significant recent advancements in hyperbaric chamber design is the pressure-safe acrylic tube. Most manufacturers offer monoplace chambers of this design. Transparent walls offer clinical staff a clear view of the patient, and the patient enjoys a less “closed-in” feeling.

 Learn more about monoplace hyperbaric chambers and their features.

Monoplace Hyperbaric Chambers

Multiplace Hyperbaric Chambers

Fink Engineering multiplace hyperbaric chamber interior
Interior of a multiplace chamber showing seated
and reclining patients.
Image courtesy of Fink Engineering.

A multiplace hyperbaric chamber can hold more than one patient. Patients may sit in chairs or recline depending on the configuration of the chamber and the patient’s needs.

In multiplace chambers the ambient pressurized atmosphere is normal air. Patients receive 100% oxygen through a hood, mask, or endotracheal tube.

Medical personnel can accompany patients in multiplace chambers during treatment. This enables them to monitor patients directly and perform procedures that are compatible with the high atmospheric pressure and presence of pure oxygen.

The design and construction of multiplace hyperbaric chambers has advanced considerably in recent years. Today’s largest state-of-the-art chambers are integrated into hospital architecture to appear and function as treatment rooms. These facilities accommodate a wide range of diagnostic and care equipment and enable clinicians to provide considerable support to patients.

 Learn more about multiplace hyperbaric chambers and their features.

Multiplace Hyperbaric Chambers

Special Hyperbaric Chambers

A few manufacturers build hyperbaric chambers for specific purposes outside the realm of the standard healthcare environment. Some of these include:

  • Veterinary hyperbaric chambers used to treat horses and other large animals,
  • Chambers used by the oil industry to support commercial divers, and
  • Portable hyperbaric chambers used for emergency medicine and patient transportation.

 Learn more about special hyperbaric chambers and their uses.

Special Hyperbaric Chambers

Hyperbaric Chamber Directory

The HyperbaricLink directory provides extensive information about participating hyperbaric treatment centers, including the types of chambers available. Other information includes:

  • treatment center type
  • practice areas and capabilities
  • accreditations and certifications
  • clinical staff
  • hours of operation
  • map and directions
  • contact information

 Use the treatment center directory to find hyperbaric chambers in your area.

Hyperbaric Treatment Centers
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Updated: 29 Aug 2015 05:12 PM
Created: 08 Oct 2010 12:00 AM
By: About the authors »