Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Ankle osteoarthritis is a condition that causes pain and stiffness in the ankle joint. Traditional treatments like joint fusion can limit mobility. An alternative procedure called ankle distraction arthroplasty has been gaining some traction, but how well does it hold up in the long term? 

A recent study by Greenfield et al. (2019) investigated this very question. They conducted a survival analysis of ankle distraction arthroplasty for ankle osteoarthritis. Their findings suggest that this procedure may be a viable option for some patients. 

Key takeaways from the study: 

  • Ankle distraction arthroplasty showed promising results, with an 84% survival rate at 5 years. This is better than some previously reported outcomes. 
  • The study also identified factors that can influence the success of the procedure. Avascular necrosis of the talus (bone death) was associated with a lower survival rate. Additionally, sex may play a role, with the study suggesting potential gender differences in long-term outcomes. 

What this means for patients: 

Ankle distraction arthroplasty offers a potential option for preserving joint mobility in patients with ankle osteoarthritis. This study provides valuable data for surgeons and patients to consider when making treatment decisions. 

Important to note: 

  • This was a retrospective study, meaning researchers analyzed past data. More robust research designs are needed to confirm these findings. 
  • The study involved a relatively small group of patients. Larger studies are necessary to draw more definitive conclusions. 

Overall, this research suggests that ankle distraction arthroplasty may be a valuable tool for treating ankle osteoarthritis. However, more research is needed to solidify its place as a standard treatment option. 

ReferenceGreenfield, S., Matta, K. M., McCoy, T. H., Rozbruch, S. R., & Fragomen, A. (2019). Ankle distraction arthroplasty for ankle osteoarthritis: a survival analysis. Strategies in trauma and limb reconstruction, 14(2), 65. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7376580/#:~:text=In%20a%20significantly%20larger%20series,and%2037%25%20within%205%20years


This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice. Always consult with a qualified healthcare professional to discuss your individual treatment options.

Image Credit: Hyperbaric Medical Solutions 

Article Authors: Gordon Slater| Tandose Sambo 

 “To ensure good health: eat lightly, breathe deeply, live moderately, cultivate cheerfulness, and maintain an interest in life.” – William Londen

Medical therapies are always evolving. Self healing is an application that utilises the mechanisms of the body’s own immune system, in order to treat existing conditions. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is a therapy that involves breathing almost pure oxygen in an enclosed space or chamber. HBOT is an evolving therapy that is now being expanded to treat a variety of conditions, including orthopaedic conditions. The body is able to accelerate healing under pressure, and the therapy is now being used as a catalyst for treatments. Orthopaedic conditions that are treated by HBOT include:

  • osteomyelitis, a bone marrow infection
  • arterial insufficiency, or low blood flow in the arteries
  • acute traumatic ischemia, which may involve a crush injury
  • Diabetic foot ulcers 

As a patient, you may already be treated for a pre-existing orthopaedic condition, and may want to consider a natural alternative to treat your ailment. An orthopaedic consultation will determine if HBOT will be the right treatment for your condition. The severity of the condition is often an indicator of the type of treatment that may be applied. 

How HBOT works

In the HBOT chamber, there is an increase in pressure that is approximately three times greater than sea level. Applying the principles of physics, gases are found to dissolve into liquids at higher pressures. Oxygen is a key gas that the body needs for respiration. Additional oxygen that is absorbed into the bloodstream will accelerate the healing process. Oxygen at high pressure is found to enhance tissue function, and heal any infections. 

The HBOT process is normally conducted in a number of sessions, according to your orthopaedic condition, and the severity of the condition. The HBOT process normally involves [2]: 

  • putting on a cotton medical gown
  • sitting or lying in a sealed chamber, either alone or with other people, in which case the chamber will be room-sized
  • receiving pressurized oxygen, which may arrive through a mask or a hood
  • talking with a therapist or technician during the session, if desired
  • possibly listening to music or watching TV to encourage relaxation

Treatment times can range from 30 minutes up to 2 hours. Prior to treatment, you will have a talk with your caregiver, so that you will understand the process of treatment, and relieve any pretreatment gitters. 


As the utilisation of HBOT in orthopaedic conditions becomes increasingly more prevalent, the procedure is now considered a safe treatment. There are 12 conditions that have been approved by the FDA as treatable conditions via HBOT. As a relatively natural treatment, the complication of utilising chemical treatments such as drugs is minimised. A small percentage of patients do exhibit oxygen toxicity under treatment, so this possibility must be carefully monitored. 


[1] MedicalNewsToday: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/313155

[2]  Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery: https://journals.lww.com/jtrauma/Abstract/2006/10000/Hyperbaric_Oxygen_Therapy_in_Orthopedic.24.aspx

[3] Research Gate: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/319104015_The_Role_of_Hyperbaric_Oxygen_Therapy_in_Orthopedics_and_Rheumatological_Diseases

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Dr. Gordon Slater

Dr. Slater is one of the first foot and ankle surgeons in Australia to adopt minimally invasive surgical techniques. He routinely uses MIS to treat a range of conditions, including bunions.

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Dr Gordon Slater is a highly-skilled surgeon specialising in foot and ankle conditions and sports injuries. Dr Slater is one of the first foot and ankle surgeons in Australia to adopt minimally invasive surgical techniques. He routinely uses MIS to treat a range of conditions, including bunions. MIS  has many advantages including shorter operating times, reduced post-operative pain, reduced risk of infection, minimal scarring and better cosmetic outcomes.

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