Diabetic foot ulceration is common, affecting 1.0%-4.1% of diabetic persons per year and up to 25% in a lifetime. Diabetic foot ulcers are multifactorial in origin, and many are slow to heal and/or are complicated by infection, frequently leading to amputation. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been suggested for numerous indications, and it is recognized by funding agencies for a smaller number including diabetic foot wounds. I reviewed the literature about the history and practice of hyperbaric oxygen therapy and key issues relevant to efficacy, effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness. Although recognized for reimbursement by Medicare and major insurers, the evidence base for hyperbaric oxygen therapy for diabetic foot care remains weak. A systematic review for the Cochrane Collaboration concluded that hyperbaric oxygen therapy may have value in treating diabetic wounds, but the studies reviewed all had methodological weaknesses, and the positive effect of treatment was not seen in the single reviewed randomized trial to include a sham treatment arm. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy consumes very substantial resources–and has the potential to consume far more–that could be better spent on other aspects of management or prevention of diabetic foot ulceration. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy should not be offered for diabetic foot wounds until large-scale, adequately blinded, controlled, and powered randomized studies have clearly demonstrated efficacy and cost effectiveness in the healing of ulcers and the prevention of major amputation.
Berendt, , , , , , , , (2006). Counterpoint: hyperbaric oxygen for diabetic foot wounds is not effective. Clinical infectious diseases : an official publication of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, 2006 Jul;43(2):193-8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16779746