November 14th
World Diabetes Day

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy in the Treatment of Diabetic Foot:
The search for quality of life

Diabetes is a disease of worldwide proportions which affects millions of people around the world and Portugal is, unfortunately, no exception.

It is now commonly known that the disease is progressive if left untreated or controlled and leads to different types of injuries.

Today, World Diabetes Day, I underline the issues arising such as infections and circulatory problems in the lower limbs that are most common in diabetic patients.

As diabetes can lead to changes in the circulation and sensitivity of the patients, the blood responsible for carrying oxygen to the tissues, arrives in smaller quantities and with less nutrients. This situation causes a lower quality blood circulation, making healing slower and ineffective.

The “Diabetic Foot”, which consists of ulcers in the lower limbs resulting from microlesions that can evolve into larger and infected wounds, can take on such a dimension that they can even lead to amputations if medical intervention and treatment are not immediate.

The treatment of diabetic ulcers requires a multi-functional and multi-professional approach: blood glucose control (blood glucose rate), appropriate dressings, lessening the load on the affected site, antibiotics, revascularizations, surgical and debridement (cleaning) and still as a last resort before amputation, Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is suitable for accelerating healing and combating infections often presented in the context of Diabetic Foot. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy acts as a complementary treatment, providing a high level of oxygen to the tissues, enhancing the formation of new vessels, enhancing the effect of antibiotics, reducing edema (swelling), etc.

In my opinion, action must be taken early. Unfortunately, this therapy in Portugal is often used only as a last resort and most of the time when the ulcer is already very advanced. In these situations, many sessions are needed, which makes the treatment more onerous, whether financially or in terms of time, efficiency, and quality of life for those involved.

I believe that, as in all medical procedures, and this one is no exception, one should act as quickly as possible, and knowing that Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy can be a solution to avoid or reduce the number of surgeries and reduce recovery time, it should be used as a complementary treatment right at the beginning of the occurrence of the lesion and not, only when it is already in a very advanced state.

The Hyperbaric Center of Cascais is exclusively dedicated to Hyperbaric Medicine and registered at the European Association, and to the present date, the first and only private center with mono-place chambers
The Hyperbaric Center of Cascais’ staff has a highly specialized team with competence in Hyperbaric Medicine given by the Medical Association and a vast experience in the several applications of this type of treatment.

Today, I emphasize the following information that should make us all reflect and in particular those who suffer from this disease:

“The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) estimates that every 20 seconds an amputation takes place in the world due to Diabetic Foot. There are studies that indicate that more than 80% of these amputations started with ulcers, and that they could have been treated with Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy.”

Maria Luís Gameiro
Direcção Centro Hiperbárico Cascais