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Thursday, September 06, 2012

Can Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Improve Achilles Tendon Tears?

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is the application of 100% oxygen in a specialized chamber to treat medical conditions, most commonly decompression sickness. Decompression sickness is  the formation of gas bubbles in the body from being exposed to extreme depths or heights.  However, scientists continue to research whether hyperbaric oxygen can be used to treat other medical conditions.

In a new study referenced below, researchers attempted to find if HBOT could improve early healing after Achilles tendon tear and subsequent repair, in rats. The Achilles tendon attaches the calf bone to the heel bone and is often torn as a result of athletic activity. The researchers took two groups of rats (28 per group) , surgically tore the tendons, and sutured them. Before surgery, one group’s Achilles tendon was injected with a steroid medication (betamethasone ) and the other group’s Achilles tendon was injected with a saltwater solution. Fourteen rats from each group were treated with HBOT and the others were not. The Achilles tendons were removed, evaluated for how well  they moved, how strong they were, and what their features were like under the microscope 11 days after surgery. The researchers found that the group treated with HBOT showed improved healing of the Achilles tendon in terms of movement, strength, and formed more fibrous connective tissue.  The results cannot yet be generalized to humans because it is based on rats but many will view the findings as promising.

Reference: Kuran, F.D., Pekedis, M.P., Yildiz, H., Aydin, F., & Eliyatkin, N. (2012). Effect of hyperbaric oxygen treatment on tendon healing after Achilles tendon repair: an experimental study on rats. Acta Orthopaedica et Traumatologica Turcica, 46 (4).

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