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Hyperbaric Medicine Center

Hyperbaric chamber and oxygen therapy

The Hyperbaric Medicine Center at Presbyterian/St. Luke's Medical Center in Denver, Colorado is recognized nationally as a leader in providing hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatment and hosts the only hyperbaric-certified team of physicians, nurses and technologists in the Denver metro area. In addition, we have the only multiplace hyperbaric chamber – a chamber that can accommodate several patients at once and is larger and less confining than a single-patient chamber – in the entire Rocky Mountain West region.

What is hyperbaric oxygen therapy?

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is a medical treatment in which a patient breathes 100% oxygen while in a contained environment (the ‘chamber’) where the air pressure has been increased to be three times higher than normal air pressure. Under these conditions, a person’s lungs can take in more oxygen than they could breathing 100% oxygen at normal air pressure. This highly oxygenated blood is carried throughout the body where it helps fight infection and promotes the repair of damaged tissue through the growth of new blood vessels.

Contact us for referrals, information or with questions

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been used to treat many health problems, including:

  • An air bubble (embolism) which gets into the circulatory system and blocks blood flow
  • Decompression sickness, which can occur when divers or miners come to the surface too quickly
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Wound healing, especially in patients with poor circulation
  • Radiation therapy injuries following treatment for cancer
  • Skin grafts, flaps or burns

Our Hyperbaric Medicine Center offers these services as a complement to oxygen therapy:

  • Medical assessment of patients and establishment of care plans
  • Patient and family education
  • Diving physicals/fitness to dive
  • Regional referral center for the Divers Alert Network

Our Patients' Stories

What can I expect during my hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatment?

Most hyperbaric treatments last 2 hours, are painless, and unless you have another medical condition requiring you to stay in the hospital, hyperbaric oxygen therapy is an outpatient therapy.

Prior to HBOT procedure:

  • Wear comfortable clothes
  • Bring a book or an activity that you can do in the chamber
  • You will be asked to change into hospital provided clothing
  • You will be seen by the technical, nursing and physician staff

During hyperbaric treatment:

Depending on your medical condition you will either sit or lie down. Along with the possibility of other patients in the chamber, you will always be accompanied by a member of our hyperbaric team.

An outside technician will gradually pressurize the chamber. You will be able to talk to the inside attendant who will instruct you to:

  • Relax and breath normally
  • Follor ear equalization techniques reviewed with you prior to your first treatment. Swallow or blow with your nose pinched to relieve discomfort.
  • If your ears don't pop or you have discomfort, tell the attendant. They can lower the pressure, if needed, to help ear equalization.

After getting to the proper pressure, the attendant will connect a breathing circuit for you to receive your oxygen. The circuit will most likely be either a clear plastic hood or a mask. You will have two to four air breaks per treatment where the attendant will take off the breathing circuit for five minutes.

Immediately after hyperbaric therapy:

Over a period of 15 minutes, the technician will slowly depressurize the hyperbaric chamber. You will likely have some ear popping, but do not blow your nose.

Post-procedure care:

In most cases, there is no special care after hyperbaric treatment. Most of the conditions treated require a five-days-a-week treatment schedule, but your physician will confirm how often you should be treated and provide any other special instructions.

Contact your doctor immediately if any of the following occurs after you leave the hospital:

  • Discomfort or pain in your sinuses or ears
  • Onset of seizures
  • Vision problems
  • Cough, shortness of breath or chest pain

In case of an emergency, CALL 911

Our hyperbaric medicine physicians and staff

Our Hyperbaric Medicine Center has two board-certified hyperbaric medicine specialists, certified by the American Board of Preventive Medicine in Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine. Together they have more than 40 years of experience in the specialty.

William B. Clem, MD

Dr. Clem

Specializes in hyperbaric oxygen medicine and diving medicine
Medical school: Univerity of Virginia School of Medicine, 1980
Residency: Los Angeles County General Hospital, 1983

Our hyperbaric team also includes:

  • Our program director, a certified hyperbaric technologist
  • Our clinical nurse coordinator, crticial care trained and a certified hyperbaric nurse
  • OUr technical director, a certified hyperbaric technologist

Contact our hyperbaric team

Hours of operation: Monday through Friday, 8:00 am - 4:00 pm
Weekends and holidays: varied schedule

Hyperbaric Medicine Center Address:
Presbyerterian/St. Luke's Medical Center
First Floor, North Wing, "C" Building
1719 E. 19th Ave.
Denver, CO 80218