Local News

Hyperbaric Chamber Helps To Restore Blood Flow For Diabetics

Posted March 10, 2006

— Diabetics often have problems with blood circulation in the legs and feet. Even a simple cut on the foot could lead to infection and possibly amputation. Now, people in Johnston County have an option that heals those wounds and saves limbs.

Frank Creech helped to shape sculptures on the Duke University campus. But, Creech, who is diabetic, has an infection on one toe that will not heal.

"Diabetics have a hard time getting oxygen down to those lower capillaries to promote healing," he said.

To help with his condition, Creech entered a hyperbaric chamber at the Johnston Therapeutic Wound Healing Center in Smithfield. The pressure inside a hyperbaric chamber forces more oxygen into the blood plasma, which increases the amount of oxygen delivered to body tissues.

It takes 20 to 30 sessions, up to two hours a day, five days a week. Creech said he knows it works.

"They saved one toe a couple years ago, so now they're working on the next one," he said.

Without the therapy, the remaining option is cutting off the infected limb.

"We have been very successful in avoiding amputations, frankly, in cases we would have amputated a while ago," said Dr. Dennis Koffer, a surgeon at Johnston Memorial Hospital.

WRAL Health Team Dr. Allen Mask said the sensation of being in a hyperbaric chamber is the same as being a pressure cabin in an airplane.

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