OBJECTIVE: Chronic wounds typically require several concurrent therapies, such as debridement, pressure offloading, and systemic and/or topical antibiotics. The aim of this study was to examine the efficacy of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) towards reducing or eliminating bacterial biofilms in vitro and in vivo.
METHOD: Efficacy was determined using in vitro grown biofilms subjected directly to HBOT for 30, 60 and 90 minutes, followed by cell viability determination using propidium monoazide-polymerase chain reaction (PMA-PCR). The efficacy of HBOT in vivo was studied by searching our chronic patient wound database and comparing time-to-healing between patients who did and did not receive HBOT as part of their treatment.
RESULTS: In vitro data showed small but significant decreases in cell viability at the 30- and 90-minute time points in the HBOT group. The in vivo data showed reductions in bacterial load for patients who underwent HBOT, and ~1 week shorter treatment durations. Additionally, in patients’ chronic wounds there was a considerable emergence of anaerobic bacteria and fungi between intermittent HBOT treatments.
CONCLUSION: The data demonstrate that HBOT does possess a certain degree of biofilm killing capability. Moreover, as an adjuvant to standard treatment, more favourable patient outcomes are achieved through a quicker time-to-healing which reduces the chance of complications. Furthermore, the data provided insights into biofilm adaptations to challenges presented by this treatment strategy which should be kept in mind when treating chronic wounds. Further studies will be necessary to evaluate the benefits and mechanisms of HBOT, not only for patients with chronic wounds but other chronic infections caused by bacterial biofilms.