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Diabetes Metab Res Rev. 2000 Sep-Oct;16 Suppl 1:S55-8.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy and the diabetic foot.

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Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Common causes for non-healing of diabetic foot ulcers are infection and/or ischaemia. Diabetic patients are compromised hosts as far as wound healing is concerned. Diabetes mellitus is associated with a defective cellular and humoral immunity. In particular, decreased chemotaxis, decreased phagocytosis, impaired bacterial killing and abnormal lymphocytic function have been observed, resulting in a reduced inflammatory reaction and defective wound healing. The potential benefits of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBO) in diabetic patients with a foot ulcer are discussed. Oxygen plays an important role in the physiology of wound healing. HBO can raise tissue oxygen tensions to levels where wound healing can be expected. Hyperbaric oxygen increases also the killing ability of leucocytes, is lethal for certain anaerobic bacteria and inhibits toxin formation in other anaerobes. Multiple anecdotal reports and retrospective studies in HBO therapy in diabetic patients suggest that HBO can be an effective adjunct in the management of diabetic wounds. Prospective studies also show the beneficial effects of HBO. Because most published studies suffer from methodological problems, there is an urgent need for a collaborative, international, randomised prospective clinical trial for the application of HBO in diabetic foot lesions, as part of a multidisciplinary treatment approach, before we can recommend HBO as standard therapy in patients with foot ulcers.

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