Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy May Improve Survival in Patients with Diabetic Foot Ulcers

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy improved long-term survival in patients with diabetes and chronic diabetic foot ulcers, according to recent research presented at the 51st European Association for the Study of Diabetes Annual Meeting.

“Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a systemic treatment modality using high oxygen pressure,” Magnus Löndahl, MD, PhD, of Lund University, said during a presentation. “This treatment is given in hyperbaric chambers. One of the beneficial outcomes of this treatment is that you have an acute increment in oxygen concentration in the tissue, and later on you probably have some beneficial effect in microvascular function.”

Magnus Londahl

Magnus Löndahl

Löndahl and colleagues evaluated 75 patients with chronic diabetic foot ulcers randomly assigned hyperbaric oxygen therapy (n = 38) or placebo (n = 37) to determine the rates of long-term survival between the two groups. Follow-up was conducted for 6 years. Patients were treated for 90 minutes a day, 5 days a week for 8 weeks.

At baseline, all participants had similar comorbidities and prescriptions for antidiabetes and cardiovascular protective drugs.

A statistically significant difference in survival was found between the two groups. Compared with a more than 60% mortality rate among the placebo group, mortality in patients treated with hyperbaric oxygen was approximately 40%.

No differences were found for place of death or if the fatal outcome was due to the diabetic foot. Similarly, no differences were found for cause of death.

“In conclusion, in this trial, hyperbaric oxygen therapy seems to improve the 6-year survival in patients with diabetes and chronic foot ulcers,” Löndahl said. “We do need more data, and we need more information, and this finding needs to be further explored and verified before [we have] any possible discussion about applying this in routine clinical management and for improving survival.” – by Amber Cox


Löndahl M, et al. Abstract #63. Presented at: 51st EASD Annual Meeting; Sept. 14-18, 2015; Stockholm.

Löndahl reports no relevant financial disclosures.

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