Sinus and internal and external ear disorders are the most common side effects of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBO2).1 These spaces are the cranium’s pneumatic sockets and, particularly those of the middle and inner ear, are most frequently involved in the pressure stress caused by compression and decompression maneuvers during exposure to altered pressures in the hyperbaric chamber. Barotrauma is the mechanical tissue damage produced by environmental pressure variation, and the middle ear is the most frequently involved structure in this kind of damage. According to Boyle’s law (the product of pressure and volume is a constant for a given mass of confined gas) it is easy to understand why all enclosed air cavities are more susceptible to this kind of lesion. Barotraumas can occur due to an increase or decrease of gas volume. To avoid gas volume decrease during the compression phase, the patient must perform some compensatory maneuvers aimed at inhaling and forcing gas (air or oxygen) into the nasal and sinus cavities. During decompression in the chamber or even underwater, the body’s gas expands and is expelled from cavities to the outside, usually without any active maneuver. It is essential to teach the patient about the functions of the hyperbaric chamber and the correct maneuvers of baro compensation. In this article, we will describe the main barotraumas that can occur during hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
© This article first appeared in Wound Care & Hyperbaric Medicine Magazine, Vol 6 Issue 1 (Spring), 2015. Copyright Best Publishing Company.