Plastic surgeons often have to deal with problematic wounds. In reconstructive surgery, as well as in chronic wounds, tissue oxygen supply is often critically low. Similarly in the treatment of severely burned patients, perfusion and oxygen supply to the areas beneath burn wounds are often critical. This paper explains the mechanisms and impact of oxygen for wound healing. It is important to mention that it has been shown that oxygen even used at ambient pressure can improve wound healing. Whereas treatment with oxygen under hyperbaric conditions is not everywhere available, at least normobaric oxygen is cheap and ubiquitously available and should therefore be used routinely. Oxygen treatment under hyperbaric conditions, especially in critically ill patients, needs a special infrastructure and is quite more expensive. Therefore, it has to be evaluated whether the potential benefit for the patient meets the risk and costs of treatment. In 2006, at the Hyperbaric Centre of the Medical University of Vienna almost 2200 hyperbaric treatments including 330 in critically ill patients have been performed. Beside 2 patients suffering from Fournier’s gangrene, 2 suffering from gas gangrene and 4 patients with severe carbon monoxide intoxications, all other intensive-care patients were treated for severe burns. Indications for less severely ill patients mainly included problem wounds mostly of diabetic patients, osteomyelitis of the mandible and less severe carbon monoxide poisoning. Our experience with the use of oxygen under hyperbaric conditions so far has been good enough to consider this kind of therapy at least in our centre as an option in the adjunctive treatment for the so far used indications. However, it has to be mentioned that there is still lack of prospective randomised controlled studies to introduce this kind of therapy as a level 1 indication in clinical routine.

Andel, Kamolz, Andel, Brenner, Frey, Zimpfer, , , (2007). [The use of oxygen as drug and its relevance for wound healing].¬†Handchirurgie, Mikrochirurgie, plastische Chirurgie : Organ der Deutschsprachigen Arbeitsgemeinschaft fur Handchirurgie : Organ der Deutschsprachigen Arbeitsgemeinschaft fur Mikrochirurgie der Peripheren Nerven und Gefasse : Organ der V…, 2007 Oct;39(5):328-32.¬†https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17985276