About Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

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 its 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).

Although some modern hyperbaric chambers are metal cylinders, a substantial number of monoplace chambers have clear acrylic walls and an increasing number of multiplace chambers are rectangular spaces little different than an ordinary treatment room. Today's leading chamber manufacturers incorporate automatic fire suppression, entertainment systems, computer controls, and other technologic advancements to enhance safety, patient comfort, and clinical support.

Key Pages

FDA Clearance and UHMS Approval »

Hyperbaric Chamber Manufacturers »

Hyperbaric Chamber Types
at Individual Treatment Centers »

Our directory of hyperbaric treatment centers includes the number of monoplace and multiplace chambers available at each treatment center.

ProfilePlus listings include detailed information on the manufacturer, model, and features of each hyperbaric chamber as well as physician and clinician qualifications, hours, and other information.

Access the treatment center directory »

Monoplace Hyperbaric Chambers

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.

Some manufacturers still build lower-cost monoplace chambers with metal walls.

Safety

Modern monoplace chamber designs have an excellent safety record.

Patients in monoplace chambers are grounded, and the chamber itself is grounded, to prevent sparks from static electricity.

Modern monoplace chambers have emergency systems for quickly and safely decompressing the chamber and flushing out pure oxygen with normal air.

hyperbariclink commentary

Patients concerned about equipment safety should contact the manufacturer or ask to see the manufacturer’s or the treatment center’s routine maintenance and safety inspection records. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) affixes a metal identification plate on every hyperbaric chamber certified as a pressure vessel for human occupancy (PVHO-1).

Access the directory of hyperbaric chamber manufacturers »

Other Characteristics

  • Because 100% oxygen fills the monoplace chamber, the patient does not need to wear a mask or hood during treatment.
  • The patient lies flat or in a reclining position during monoplace treatment.
  • Treatment center staff and caregivers usually remain outside the chamber during treatment, so monoplace chambers are unsuitable for patients requiring the continuous assistance of a clinician or caregiver. Small children may be accompanied by a parent or caregiver.
  • The patient dons special clothing and brings nothing into the monoplace chamber.
  • Pass-through ports in the chamber wall allow clinicians to attach electronic monitors, IV pumps, and other medical equipment.
  • Clinicians communicate with patients through an intercom system.
  • Patients can watch a video monitor positioned outside the chamber. Over the course of forty 90-minute treatments, entertainment may be an important consideration for patient comfort.
ETC monoplace hyperbaric chamber

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

Multiplace Hyperbaric Chambers

A multiplace hyperbaric chamber holds many patients at a time, as the name implies. In multiplace chambers the ambient pressurized atmosphere is normal air. Patients receive 100% oxygen through a hood, mask, or endotracheal tube, with periodic air breaks to prevent oxygen toxicity. Clinical staff accompanying patients may also breathe oxygen through a mask to prevent decompression sickness.

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 patient monitoring and care equipment and enable clinicians and caregivers to accompany patients throughout treatment.

Modern multiplace chambers may also include one or more airlocks. While all chambers include a door that is sealed during chamber pressurization, the double doors of an airlock enable staff and patients to leave the chamber while it remains fully pressurized. Chambers with multiple airlocks can treat groups of patients requiring different treatment pressures and durations. Airlock chambers are often also equipped with smaller airlock hatches that permit clinicians to safely pass medicines, blood samples, and other small objects into and out of the chamber.

Safety

Modern multiplace chambers are equipped with fire suppression systems. Fire risk is low in multiplace chambers, because the supply of 100% oxygen is limited to oxygen hoods, masks, and connection tubes.

hyperbariclink commentary

Patients concerned about equipment safety should contact the manufacturer or ask to see the manufacturer’s or the treatment center’s routine maintenance and safety inspection records. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) affixes a metal identification plate on every hyperbaric chamber certified as a pressure vessel for human occupancy (PVHO-1).

Access the directory of hyperbaric chamber manufacturers »

Other Characteristics

  • Rectangular multiplace chambers and many cylindrical designs have rectangular entryways that enable patients and staff to enter the chamber standing.
  • Multiplace chambers accommodate specialized patient seating, wheelchairs, and gurneys. Patients may be seated or lie down during treatment.
  • Staff and patients may move about in the multiplace chamber as necessary.
  • Some multiplace chambers have climate control systems for greater patient comfort.
  • Patients communicate directly with people inside the multiplace chamber and through an intercom system with people outside.
  • Many multiplace chambers are equipped with video entertainment systems. The choice of material may be a treatment center or a group decision. Some multiplace treatment centers permit patients to bring books and magazines into the chamber.
Fink Engineering multiplace hyperbaric chamber exterior

Treatment center reception area and exterior of a triple-lock multiplace chamber.
Image courtesy of St. Luke’s Medical Center.

Fink Engineering multiplace hyperbaric chamber interior

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

Hyperbaric Stretchers

In emergency situations, where every minute counts, hyperbaric oxygen treatment in the field can save lives. SOS Hyperlite manufactures a portable hyperbaric stretcher that can be quickly assembled in the field and operated during patient transport by land, sea, or air.

Capable of providing 100% oxygen at 2.28 ATA (atmospheres absolute), the SOS Hyperlite system weighs less than 200 pounds. It will fit through the door of most multiplace hyperbaric chambers, enabling the patient to pass from one treatment system to another without being decompressed.

SOS Hyperlite has received FDA 510(k) clearance to market the Hyperlite for UHMS approved diseases and conditions.

The Hyperlite conforms to ASME PVHO-1 (2007), Case 12, and other safety standards. A variety of configurations are available for military and civilian use.

 

 

SOS Hyperlite hyperbaric stretcher

SOS Hyperlite hyperbaric stretcher assembled and ready for operation.
Image courtesy of SOS Hyperlite, Ltd.

 
Page Data
Updated: 15 Aug 2011 08:45 PM
Created: 08 Oct 2010 12:00 AM
By: About the authors »