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Hyberbaric Oxygen Therapy May Enhance Healing in IC/BPS

Yilmaz M, Cakmak T, Yenilmez A, Baseskioglu B, Metin S. Effects of hyperbaric oxygen therapy on hydrochloric acid-induced interstitial cystitis in rats: a histological and ultrastructural study. Undersea Hyperb Med. 2016 May-Jun;43(3):181-8.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy involves breathing pure oxygen in a special pressurized chamber. It is best known for treating decompression sickness in scuba divers, but it also has beneficial effects for people with serious infections, wounds that don’t heal, and other conditions. It’s also been tried as a treatment for interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome (IC/BPS). In this report, investigators evaluated the effects of hyperbaric oxygen therapy in 24 rats that they had injected with hydrochloric acid in order to induce interstitial cystitis. Next, they exposed some of those rats to hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and left others untreated so they could compare the effects between the two groups. They found that hyperbaric oxygen therapy alleviated the inflammation associated with interstitial cystitis, and even found some evidence that the treatment may have reversed bladder tissue damage. Based on these results, the investigators suggested that hyperbaric oxygen therapy might be a promising therapy for IC/BPS in humans. Indeed, this isn’t the first report to suggest a beneficial effect of hyperbaric oxygen therapy in IC/BPS; for example, several years ago, a group of Japanese researchers reported that the therapy was a well tolerated and potent treatment in IC/BPS patients who didn’t respond to standard therapy. Of 11 patients treated, 7 had improvement in symptoms (such as pain, urgency, and urinary frequency) that lasted at least 12 months after the treatment.