Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
"Treating the 14 conditions covered by OHIP"
What is Osteomyelitis (Bone Infection)
Osteomyelitis is a bacterial or fungal infection of the bone that affects two in 100,000 people each year. Typically, osteomyelitis responds well with antibiotics or surgical intervention. However, refractory osteomyelitis is a chronic infection that does not respond to traditional treatment options. In most cases of osteomyelitis, the organism responsible for 90 percent of the cases is Staphylococcus, while others include Haemophilus influenzae and salmonella. The bacteria travel through the bloodstream to the bone or spread from nearby infected tissue or open wound. Once the bacteria infect the bone, it causes swelling. The swollen tissue and pus place pressure on the outer wall of the bone, thus compressing the blood vessels in the bone and reducing the oxygen supply. This leads to bone death if left untreated. In chronic cases, this blood supply often becomes blocked and no longer allows blood flow. When blood flow is disrupted, white blood cells that fight infection can no longer travel to the site, nor can the antibiotics used to kill the infection.
Who is at Risk?
Osteomyelitis can affect people of all ages, though the locations of infection can be different. Adults typically have infections in the vertebrae and pelvis while children see more cases at the end of the long bones of the arms and legs. While anyone can contract osteomyelitis, there are some factors that can increase your risk of infection. These include:
Patients receiving hemodialysis
Weakened Immune systems
Sickle Cell Disease
Intravenous drug use
Surgical patients where surgery involved bone
Traumatic bone injuries
Treatment with HBOT
In cases of chronic refractory osteomyelitis, HBOT has an 81 to 85 percent remission rate. With HBOT, or hyperbaric oxygen therapy, a patient relaxes in a hyperbaric chamber and receives 100 percent oxygen at increased atmospheric pressure. This floods the body with oxygen, including areas such as a bone infection where poor blood supply limits the oxygen levels. Most bacteria and fungi thrive in low oxygen, so the addition of oxygen is often enough to stop the spread of the infection. The increased oxygen stimulates the immune system to fight off the infection, as well as stimulates diseased tissue and blood vessels to repair and grow. HBOT, or hyperbaric oxygen therapy, also reduces swelling in the bone and surrounding tissue associated with osteomyelitis.
How do I Qualify for OHIP Coverage?
In order to qualify for OHIP covered hyperbaric oxygen therapy for osteomyelitis (chronic bone infection), one must present supporting medical documentation. A referral from a physician or specialist is preferred, however it is not absolutely necessary. Our medical director will look over all supporting documentation, and make the ultimate decision for qualification.