OxyFile #143

HIV Management: Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBO)

Wibert Jordan, M.D

SEARCHLIGHT: Quarterly News From SEARCH Alliance 
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Suite 304, Los Angeles, CA 90036


Abstract:

The purpose of the SEARCH Alliance-funded study was to evaluate
the efficacy of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy in treating peripheral
neuropathy ("pins and needles" numbness of the hands and feet
caused by nerve damage due to HIV and compounded by toxicities
caused by AZT, ddI and ddC).

In Hyperbaric Oxygen (HBO) Therapy, the patient breathes 100
percent oxygen continually or intermittently while the pressure
of the treatment chambers is increased to a point higher than sea
level pressure. It is commonly used to treat burns, carbon
monoxide poisoning and certain breathing disorders.

Status:

Although the test designed to measure proper nerve conduction
(electro micrograph) did not prove objective benefit of this
therapy, seven of  the  ten  trial  participants  reported
subjectively that the numbness and lethargy assciated with
peripheral neuropathy had diminished.

Earlier studies of HBO, performed at the University of Maryland,
showed that HBO was effective in the prevention of opportunistic
infections (OI's) in patients with extremely low immune function.
While both the SEARCH study and the University of Maryland study
demonstrated the efficacy of HBO for certain HIV complications,
the extremely high cost and inconvenience of HBO chambers
probably do not make it a viable therapy for a large population
of people with HIV disease.

Copyright (c) 1994 - SEARCH Alliance. Noncommercial reproduction
encouraged.