Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Arrives at HMFW
11/14/2005

FORT WORTH, Texas — For a diabetic, a small sore on the bottom of a foot can grow into a debilitating wound that's difficult to heal and could even pose a threat of amputation. The good news is a therapy now offered at Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital has proven to increase the speediness and effectiveness of care for non-healing wounds. Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital announces the opening of the new Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine Center, where patients can receive hyperbaric oxygen therapy and advanced traditional wound care treatment. The center is the newest such facility in Tarrant County, and will continue to be an important medical resource to improve the health of the people in the community.

“This therapy is crucial. It can save lives and limbs,” said Gloria Boyer, director of the Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine Center, respiratory therapy and neurodiagnostics. “Patients with a compromised limb who would otherwise require an amputation may have arms and legs saved as a result of undergoing hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Wounds that people have lived with for years can sometimes be healed in months.”

Hospital executives anticipate caring for 20 new patients per month in the new Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine Center, and expect that number will double over the next two years.

“Individuals with diabetes comprise one of the largest groups that will utilize hyperbaric treatment,” said Irvine Prather, D.O., a member of the medical staff at Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital. “One of the side effects of diabetes is hardening of the arteries and nerve damage, which impairs circulation and impedes wound healing. Using hyperbaric oxygen therapy in combination with other standard treatments, we can help wounds heal faster, thus saving the patient from infection, disability and possible amputation.”

As specialists in hyperbaric oxygen therapy, Dr. Prather and Kelly Grimes, D.O., physicians on the hospital's medical staff, will treat patients in the Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine Center.

While lying in a large, submarine-like chamber, patients receive an infusion of 100 percent oxygen as it is circulated throughout the chamber at pressure levels two to three times greater than normal. The high pressure causes a six-fold increase in the amount of oxygen the blood can deliver to compromised tissues.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy also has proven to be effective in treating decompression sickness from scuba diving, carbon monoxide poisoning, chronic bone infections, traumatic wound injuries, spider bites, peripheral vascular disease, gas gangrene infections, compromised skin grafts and surgical incisions, all because it promotes blood flow and increases oxygen circulation.

Stephen Brotherton, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon on the medical staff at HMFW, expects to refer patients to the Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine Center.

“I see some patients who have multiple incisions from multiple surgeries on the same site – a knee for example," Dr. Brotherton said. “If another surgery is needed on that knee, and we have to go in through the previous incision, it is sometimes difficult for the incision to heal because scar tissue buildup has impeded the flow of blood to the area.”

Dr. Brotherton is not the only physician who plans to refer patients. Frank Rivera, M.D., and other vascular interventional radiologists on the medical staff at HMFW, offer endovascular (non-surgical) treatments to patients who have blocked arteries in their legs. Close follow-up is provided using non-invasive ultrasound imaging of the blocked arteries. A complete treatment plan may include hyperbaric oxygen therapy to increase blood flow in the patient's arteries.

“While improving arterial inflow is paramount for wound healing, hyperbaric oxygen therapy may be used to compliment endovascular therapy," Dr. Rivera said. “We are thrilled to be able to offer such a comprehensive program for our patients with vascular insufficiency.”

About Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital
Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital, a Magnet designated hospital celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, is Tarrant County's largest and busiest hospital and regional referral center. A member of Texas Health Resources, HMFW is licensed for 610 beds and provides the following services: cardiovascular; neurosciences; orthopedics and sports medicine; rehabilitation; adult critical care and neonatal intensive care; high risk and routine obstetrics and gynecology; trauma and emergency medicine; cancer care; medical/surgical; kidney transplants; occupational health; and more. For more information, please call 1-888-4HARRIS, or visit www.texashealth.org/hmfw.