Dr Ken Thistlethwaite BSc(Hons) MBBS FRACGP(JCCA) is a GP Anaesthetist who has worked in Hyperbaric Medicine at the Wesley Centre for Hyperbaric Medicine and The Royal Brisbane Hospital since 2004. He is the principal investigator in a multi-centred double blinded, randomised, control trial examining the use and effectiveness of Hyperbaric Oxygen in the management of venous leg ulcers.
Medicare item number 13015, funding for the use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy in the treatment of problem wounds and ulcers in non-diabetic patients was withdrawn on the 1/11/2012. Systematic reviews of HBOT have found evidence supports its use for adjunctive treatment of diabetic foot ulcers, however, insufficient evidence exist for other types of leg ulcers. Around 70% of chronic leg ulcers are caused by venous disease and evidence shows compression therapy is an effective treatment. Despite the application of effective compression, 15-30% of venous leg ulcers do not heal and remain unhealed at 1 year. Only one small trial has looked at the impact of HBOT on healing of venous leg ulcers. This trial was under powered but suggested increased healing trajectory rates at the early time points of 2 and 4 weeks. The Wound Management Innovation CRC project 3-02, ‘The Effectiveness of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Healing of Chronic Venous Leg Ulcers’ has been completed. The project is a randomised, double blinded, placebo controlled trial. The results and implications for management including when and how to use Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy with this condition will be discussed.