January 21, 2016

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) doesn’t benefit diabetes patients suffering from severe foot ulcers, according to new research.

Since HBOT is already used in treating diabetic foot ulcers, researchers wanted to test whether HBOT could reduce the need for major amputation or aid in the healing of severe diabetic foot ulcers.

To conduct their study, researchers followed 103 of their diabetic patients with foot lesions at Wagner grade 2 to 4 over a period of 3 months.

The patients were randomly separated into 2 groups: the first group received 90 minutes of HBOT (oxygen at 244 kPa) and the other group received 90 minutes of placebo (oxygen at 125 kPa) for 30 days.

After follow-up, 22% of patients in the placebo group and 20% in the HBOT group were healed. However, another 25% in the placebo group needed a major amputation below the knee and 22% in the HBOT group needed an amputation.

“HBOT does not offer an additional advantage to comprehensive wound care in reducing the indication for amputation or facilitating wound healing in patients with chronic diabetic foot ulcers,” researchers concluded.

–Amanda Balbi


Fedorko L, Bowen JM, Jones W, et al. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy does not reduce indications for amputation in patients with diabetes with nonhealing ulcers of the lower limb: A prospective, double-blind, randomized controlled clinical trial. Diabetes Care. Published online before print January 6, 2016. doi:10.2337/dc15-2001.