- hyperbaric chamber
a steel vessel in which atmospheric pressure can be raised or lowered by air compressors, used to treat divers or pilots afflicted with aeroembolism and to provide high-oxygen environments for certain medical treatments and operations. Also called recompression chamber, decompression chamber.[1960-65]
* * *or decompression chamber or recompression chamberSealed chamber supplying a high-pressure atmosphere.Breathing air at high pressure increases the oxygen level in tissues. This is used to inhibit growth of anaerobic bacteria (as in tetanus or gas gangrene); to increase the chance that babies with certain heart malformations will survive heart surgery; or to cause air bubbles (as in air embolism or decompression sickness) to be redissolved, carried to the lungs, and exhaled as pressure is gradually returned to normal.
* * *also called decompression chamber or recompression chambersealed chamber in which a high- pressure environment is used primarily to treat decompression sickness, gas embolism, carbon monoxide poisoning, gas gangrene resulting from infection by anaerobic bacteria, tissue injury arising from radiation therapy for cancer (see cancer: Radiation therapy (cancer)), and wounds that are difficult to heal.Experimental compression chambers first came into use about 1860. In its simplest form, the hyperbaric chamber is a cylindrical metal or acrylic tube large enough to hold one or more persons and equipped with an access hatch that retains its seal under high pressure. Air, another breathing mixture, or oxygen is pumped in by a compressor or allowed to enter from pressurized tanks. Pressures used for medical treatment are usually 1.5 to 3 times ordinary atmospheric pressure.The therapeutic benefits of a high-pressure environment derive from its direct compressive effects, from the increased availability of oxygen to the body (because of an increase in the partial pressure of oxygen), or from a combination of the two. In the treatment of decompression sickness, for example, a major effect of the elevated pressure is shrinkage in the size of the gas bubbles that have formed in the tissues. In the treatment of carbon monoxide poisoning, the increased oxygen speeds clearance of carbon monoxide from the blood and reduces damage done to cells and tissues.
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