About the Center for Hyperbaric Medicine

Hyperbaric Chamber Opened Spring 2012

Trailer arrives in Australia

The Hyperbaric Chamber arrived just before Thanksgiving. The 48-foot, 120,000 pound chamber was manufactured in Australia and carried by ship and semi before it was finally unloaded and placed inside the 10,278-square foot addition to HCMC’s Purple Building (near the 716 S. 7th St. entrance) on November 17th.

Kraus-Anderson Construction Company built the addition that houses the hyperbaric chamber.

HCMC currently has the only multi-chamber hyperbaric oxygen facility in the state that is used 24/7/365 for emergency treatment of critically ill patients, often victims of carbon monoxide exposure. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is also used for treatments of radiation injuries, diabetic ulcers, chronic wound healing, and air embolism. The HCMC chamber is also used for research on improving the outcome of patients with traumatic brain injury.

New Center for Hyperbaric Medicine

It takes only one step to cross the threshold into the new Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) Hyperbaric Medicine Department, but as the doors close quietly behind you, there is the distinct impression that you have entered a serene aquatic world miles away from the bustle of the hospital's lobby. Read more... Source: MD News

HCMC Network Feature: The team behind the scenes

A new era has begun with the opening of the Center for Hyperbaric Medicine at HCMC. From early plans and funding applications, through installation of a multiplace hyperbaric chamber and construction of a brand new hyperbaric medicine suite, a dedicated and multifaceted team on two continents has worked to make this state-of-the-art facility a reality. Read more... Source: HCMC News Blog

Emergency treatment for carbon monoxide poisoning

HCMC's new hyperbaric chamber raises the bar for emergency treatment of smoke inhalation Firefighters put their lives in danger every day to save victims. While every effort is made to protect firefighters and safely extinguish fires and rescue victims, unfortunately, injuries can occur. Burn injuries to the throat and lungs can physically compromise breathing function, and components of the smoke can have serious metabolic effects. Carbon monoxide is always present in smoke from fires. Hydrogen cyanide is present when certain household materials burn. Both carbon monoxide and the more deadly hydrogen cyanide bond to the hemoglobin in the red blood cells, wreaking havoc on their ability to carry oxygen to the tissues. Untreated, disabling or deadly damage can occur to the heart and brain.

HBO hallway

"Inhaling smoke that's concentrated with chemicals like carbon monoxide and/or cyanide can be fatal," explains Dr. Cheryl Adkinson, Medical Director of the Center for Hyperbaric Medicine at HCMC. Hyperbaric oxygen treatment (HBOT) is a proven therapy for carbon monoxide poisoning with or without cyanide. In a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, the patient breathes 100 percent oxygen while in a pressurized environment. The effect is to put oxygen into the blood, which then takes it to the tissues, without using the hemoglobin molecule. The high dose of oxygen also releases the carbon monoxide from the hemoglobin molecule and normalizes respiration processes in cells affected by carbon monoxide and/or cyanide. HCMC caregivers are able to be inside the multi-place chamber with the patient to monitor them closely and provide hands-on care.

Smoke inhalation can cause irritation of the nose and throat, cough and shortness of breath. The carbon monoxide and cyanide in the smoke inhaled can cause nausea, headache, lightheadedness, confusion, chest pain and loss of consciousness.

For more than 48 years, HCMC’s hyperbaric chamber, located two blocks from the hospital campus, has provided 24/7 emergency treatment to Minnesotans with carbon monoxide poisoning from smoke inhalation and other sources, as well as emergency treatment of other life-threatening conditions, such as gas gangrene, necrotizing fasciitis, cerebral arterial gas embolism, and decompression sickness.

In May of 2012 a new, state-of-the-art hyperbaric chamber opened at a new location within the main hospital building. Because the new facility is conveniently located within the hospital, critically ill patients from the emergency department, operating room, or intensive care units can quickly be transported to the chamber for treatment. Standard hospital services are also immediately available, such as lab, x-ray, pharmacy, code teams, and security services. "We now have the most thoughtfully designed multi-place chamber ensemble in the world for delivering critical care. It surpasses all others in monitoring, communication, environmental control, and gas delivery systems," said Dr. Adkinson. The location of the new Center for Hyperbaric Medicine is also ideal for dropping off outpatients patients coming for daily scheduled treatment of chronic conditions. The new facility provides these patients with amenities such:

  • Private spaces for evaluation, procedures, and dressing changes.
  • Bathroom and changing room space sufficient for the growing number of patients.
  • Reception desk and waiting space for families and special waiting areas for patients ready for treatment.

Hennepin's Center for Hyperbaric Medicine is one of only 60 programs in the US accredited by the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS). Program staff includes critical care nurses and hyperbaric technicians with special certification in hyperbaric medicine and physicians board certified in undersea and hyperbaric medicine as well as Emergency Medicine. In 2011 a total of 3334 hyperbaric oxygen treatments were given; 135 were emergency treatments, 68 for carbon monoxide poisoning and 57 for life-threatening soft tissue infections.