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Hyperbaric Medicine:
What Works and What Does Not?

Daniel S. Morrison, M.D.
R. Duncan Kirkby, Ph.D.

Hyperbaric medicine—the delivery of pressurized oxygen to the body—is best known for its ability to treat decompression sickness, a condition in which deep-sea divers who surface quickly develop nitrogen bubbles in their bloodstream. In recent years, it has also proven effective for treating carbon monoxide poisoning, difficult wounds, certain types of infections, and several other conditions. However, it is also widely promoted for illegitimate uses.

The information we present can guide you through the claims and counterclaims made for hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT). We discuss its history, legitimate uses, experimental uses, and improper uses. Our overall advice to those seeking care is quite simple.

How to Navigate This Article

The total amount of information we present would occupy about 50 pages of an average book. If you only want to check whether HBOT can help a particular condition, you can go immediately to that topic. For a more through review, you can read the pages in sequence or follow the links to just the topics that interest you. We hope to have the information posted in the near future.


Dr. Morrison is a resident in emergency medicine at Sinai-Grace Hospital in Detroit, Michigan. Dr. Kirkby is Professor of Medical Neuroscience and Executive Director, Master's Program of Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine at the University of Sint Eustatius School of Medicine, Netherlands-Antilles.

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This page was revised on July 5, 2001.