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Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for diabetic foot ulcers


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A recent report, published by the Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Applied Health Research, indicates that hyperbaric oxygen therapy can be an effective adjuvant treatment for non-healing diabetic foot ulcers.

Submitted Article

The prevalence of diabetes in Newfoundland and Labrador is the highest in Canada and is expected to continue to increase. This will also mean an increase in the rates of diabetic foot ulcers and of non-healing diabetic foot ulcers that do not respond to conventional treatments and greatly increase the risk of adverse health outcomes and increased health care costs.

A recent Evidence in Context report, published by the Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Applied Health Research (NLCAHR), indicates that hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is an effective adjuvant treatment for non-healing diabetic foot ulcers, provided HBOT is referred in an appropriate and timely manner. The report synthesized the findings from eight systematic reviews that, together, drew on 65 individual studies.

The available evidence shows that appropriate and timely referrals of non-healing diabetic foot ulcers for HBOT can decrease the risk of major amputation and can have a positive impact on a patient’s quality of life. HBOT has also been shown to be significantly and consistently cost-effective (from a societal perspective) compared to standard care.

Eastern Health has recently moved the two single-bed, mono-chamber HBOT units from temporary trailers to facilities inside the Health Sciences Centre and has also increased the number of HBOT-trained physicians. The HBOT facilities now operate during regular hours from Monday to Friday and are being used to full capacity. Some challenges remain in terms of encouraging appropriate and timely referrals, as well as of providing support for patients coming from outside the Avalon Peninsula.

New Canadian guidelines and new referral forms will be ready soon for your use.

The full report, as well as an executive summary and a one-page brief, are available at the NLCAHR website

For more information regarding hyperbaric oxygen therapy in Newfoundland and Labrador, please contact Dr. Ken LeDez, director of hyperbaric medicine at Eastern Health  at (709) 777-2243. For more information about the Evidence in Context report on HBOT, please e-mail Pablo Navarro.

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