A clinical practice guideline for the use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy in the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers

UHMS CPG Oversight Committee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Background: The role of hyperbaric oxygen (HBO2) for the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers (DFUs) has been examined in the medical literature for decades. There are more systematic reviews of the HBO2/DFU literature than there have been randomized controlled trials (RCTs), but none of these reviews has resulted in a clinical practice guideline (CPG) that clinicians, patients and policy-makers can use to guide decision-making in everyday practice. Methods: The Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS), following the methodology of the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) Working Group, undertook this systematic review of the HBO2 literature in order to rate the quality of evidence and generate practice recommendations for the treatment of DFUs. We selected four clinical questions for review regarding the role of HBO2 in the treatment of DFUs and analyzed the literature using patient populations based on Wagner wound classification and age of the wound (i.e., acute post-operative wound vs. non-healing wound of 30 or more days). Major amputation and incomplete healing were selected as critical outcomes of interest. Results: This analysis showed that HBO2 is beneficial in preventing amputation and promoting complete healing in patients with Wagner Grade 3 or greater DFUs who have just undergone surgical debridement of the foot as well as in patients with Wagner Grade 3 or greater DFUs that have shown no significant improvement after 30 or more days of treatment. In patients with Wagner Grade 2 or lower DFUs, there was inadequate evidence to justify the use of HBO2 as an adjunctive treatment. Conclusions: Clinicians, patients, and policy-makers should engage in shared decision-making and consider HBO2 as an adjunctive treatment of DFUs that fit the criteria outlined in this guideline. The current body of evidence provides a moderate level of evidence supporting the use of HBO2 for DFUs. Future research should be directed at improving methods for patient selection, testing various treatment protocols and improving our confidence in the existing estimates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)205-247
Number of pages43
JournalUndersea and Hyperbaric Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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