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Diving Hyperb Med. 2011 Jun;41(2):101-4.

Controversial issues in hyperbaric oxygen therapy: a European Committee for Hyperbaric Medicine Workshop.

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  • 1National Center for Hyperbaric Medicine, Institute of Maritime and Tropical Medicine, Medical University of Gdansk, Poland.


Every few years, the European Committee for Hyperbaric Medicine (ECHM) publishes its recommendations concerning the clinical indications for hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT). The last recommendations were issued during the 7th European Consensus Conference on Hyperbaric Medicine in 2004. Since then, several publications have reported on the use of HBOT in some indications in which it has not yet been recommended routinely, namely aseptic bone necrosis, global brain ischaemia and autism. Patients or their families push physicians and staff of hyperbaric facilities to use hyperbaric treatment regardless of the quality of the scientific evidence. Therefore, the ECHM Workshop "Controversial issues in hyperbaric oxygen therapy" was convened as a satellite meeting of the 2010 European Underwater and Baromedical Society Annual Scientific Meeting in Istanbul, Turkey in 2010. For each topic, a set procedure was used: first came a general report by specialists in the topic, incorporating a review of current pathophysiological, experimental and clinical evidence. Then, there were reports from hyperbaric facilities that had gained clinical experience in that condition, followed by a general discussion with specialists present in the audience. Finally, statements regarding each topic were proposed and voted on by the audience and these were presented to the ECHM Executive Board for consideration and possible approval. In conclusion, the use of HBOT in femoral head necrosis will be proposed during the next ECHM Consensus Conference to become an 'accepted' indication; whilst the use of HBOT in global brain ischaemia and autism should retain its current ECHM recommendations, that it should be 'optional' and 'non-accepted' respectively.

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