Medical Policy

Subject: Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (Systemic/Topical)
Document #: MED.00005 Current Effective Date:    09/27/2017
Status: Reviewed Last Review Date:    08/03/2017


This document addresses the use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), which can be applied systemically, topically, or to one or more limbs alone.  HBOT involves the use of pressurized room air, 100% oxygen, or room air enriched with a specific concentration of oxygen.  The premise of HBOT is that the increased pressure results in increased oxygen levels in systemic circulation and the body's tissues with the goal of improving healing of wounds, injuries or to support oxygen transport in acutely anemic or hypoxic individuals.

Position Statement

Medically Necessary:

Systemic hyperbaric oxygen pressurization is considered medically necessary in the treatment of any of the following conditions when performed in accordance with Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS) guidelines:

 Not Medically Necessary:

If the wound fails to show measurable signs of healing within 30 days of initiating and at each subsequent 30 day interval of systemic hyperbaric oxygen pressurization, continued therapy is considered not medically necessary.

Investigational and Not Medically Necessary:

Topical hyperbaric oxygen is considered investigational and not medically necessary in all cases.

Limb specific hyperbaric oxygen pressurization is considered investigational and not medically necessary in all cases.

Systemic hyperbaric oxygen pressurization is considered investigational and not medically necessary for all other conditions not previously listed, including but not limited to the treatment of tinnitus.


Systemic Hyperbaric Oxygen

The position regarding systemic hyperbaric oxygen is based on guidelines published by the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (2008).  These guidelines provide recommendations for indications where hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been demonstrated to provide clinical benefits.  For the majority of these indications, there is adequate data to provide guidance regarding treatment duration, frequency and depth of pressurization.  One exception is idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss, which is discussed separately below.

Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society Guidelines:
The Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society's (UHMS) 2014 Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Committee suggests utilization of systemic hyperbaric oxygen therapy pressurization or "HBOT" guidelines as described below:

  1. Acute Thermal Burn Injury – Recommended for patients with serious burns, i.e., partial or full thickness burns covering greater than 20% of total body surface area or with involvement of the hands, face, feet or perineum.  Treatment should begin as soon as possible following injury, often during initial resuscitation.  Treatments should be given for 90 minutes 3 times within the first 24 hours, and twice daily thereafter at 2.0-2.4 ATA (atmospheres absolute) of oxygen.  For large burns of 40% or greater, treatment for 10-14 days is recommended.  Treatment beyond 20-30 sessions is usually utilized to optimize grafting success.  It is rare to exceed 40-50 sessions.
  2. Air or Gas Embolism – Initial treatment should follow U.S. Navy Table #6, using 2.82 ATA of oxygen. Usual treatment involves 1-2 sessions, but may require 5-10.
  3. Arterial Insufficiencies – Treatment varies depending upon the severity of the condition and the type of chamber used.  In large multiplace chambers, treatments delivered between 2.0 and 2.5 ATA of oxygen for 90-120 minutes once or twice daily is standard.  In monoplace chambers, treatment at 2.0 ATA of oxygen for 90-120 minutes once or twice daily is standard.  Once the patient is stabilized, once daily treatment is recommended.  Details for specific conditions are below:
    1. Diabetic lower extremity wounds  
      1. Patient with Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes with lower extremity wound due to diabetes; and
      2. Wagner grade III or higher wound severity; and
      3. Patient has failed an adequate course of standard wound therapy (defined as 30 days of standard treatment including assessment and correction of vascular abnormalities, optimization of nutritional status and glucose control, debridement, moist wound dressing, off-loading, and treatment of infection; and
      4. Re-evaluations at 30 days must show continued progress.
    2. Arterial insufficiency ulcers May benefit patients who have persistent hypoxia despite attempts at increasing blood flow or when wound failure continues despite maximum revascularization.
    3. Pressure ulcers Not recommended for the routine treatment of decubitus ulcers.  May be necessary for support of skin flaps and grafts showing evidence of ischemic failure, when the ulcer develops in the field of previous irradiated area for pelvic or perineal malignancies, or when progressive necrotizing soft tissue infection or refractory osteomyelitis is present.
    4. Venous stasis ulcers May be required to support skin grafting in patients with concomitant peripheral arterial occlusive disease and hypoxia not corrected by control of edema.
  4. Carbon Monoxide Poisoning – Actual treatment pressure and time will vary, but compressions should be between 2.4 and 3.0 ATA of oxygen.  In patients with persistent neurologic dysfunction after the initial treatment, subsequent treatments may be performed within 6-8 hours and continued once or twice daily until there is no further improvement in cognitive functioning.  No more than 5 sessions should be needed to treat.
  5. Central Retinal Artery Occlusion (CRAO) – Patients presenting within 24 hours of symptoms should be considered for immediate HBOT.  Initiation of treatment should begin with delivery of 1 ATA of oxygen at the highest possible FiO2 .  If there is no response within 5 minutes, then refer to HBOT at 2 ATA of oxygen as an adjunct to other interventions.  If vision improves, treat with 90 minutes of 2 ATA BID for a minimum of 3 days.  If vision does not improve within 5 minutes of 2 ATA of oxygen, press to a maximum of 2.8 ATA of oxygen, if no improvement occurs within 20 minutes at 2.8 ATA of oxygen, consider following U.S. Navy Table #6.  If vision does improve, continue treatment at effective pressure for 90 minutes BID.  Continue treatment until there is three consecutive days with no clinical improvement.  If the patient is a non-responder, initial treatment should be considered day 1 of treatment.
  6. Compartment syndrome – Treatment twice a day for 24-36 hours with oxygen breathing for 90 minutes each, or a single treatment a day for 120 minutes.  For residual complications after fasciotomy, treatments should be twice a day for 7-10 days, or when condition has stabilized such that no additional benefit is received.  Pressures should be 2.0 ATA in monoplace chambers and 2.4 ATA of oxygen in multiplace chambers.
  7. Compromised Skin Grafts and Flaps – Initial treatment is for 90-120 minutes at 2.0-2.5 ATA of oxygen.  Once the flap or graft is stable, once daily treatments may suffice.
  8. Crush Injuries – Two or more treatments a day with oxygen breathing for 90 minutes each, or a single treatment a day for 120 minutes.  Pressures should be 2.0 ATA of oxygen in monoplace chambers and 2.4 ATA of oxygen in multiplace chambers.
  9. Cyanide Poisoning – Patients with cyanide poisoning frequently present with simultaneous carbon monoxide poisoning.  Please see "Carbon Monoxide Poisoning" above for treatment recommendations.
  10. Decompression Sickness – Treatment times vary, depending upon length of time elapsed between symptoms and initiation of treatment and between residual symptoms after initial treatment.  Complete resolution is most likely with early HBOT following U.S. Navy oxygen treatment tables with initial recompression to 2.82 ATA of oxygen.  Repeat treatments may be recommended until clinical stability is achieved, and should be administered step-wise as long as improvement occurs.  Complete resolution of symptoms or lack of improvement on two consecutive treatments establishes the end point.  No more than 5-10 treatments per individual are considered the norm.
  11. Gas Gangrene – Treatment should be administered for 90 minutes 3 times within the first 24 hours with 3.0 ATA of oxygen, and then twice daily for the next 2-5 days.  The decision to terminate treatment depends upon the patient's response to HBOT therapy.  If the patient remains toxic, the treatment needs to be extended.  No more than 10 sessions should be needed to treat.
  12. Intracranial Abscess (includes cerebral abscess, subdural empyema, and epidural empyema ) – Treatment should be administered at 2.0-2.5 ATA of oxygen for 60-90 minutes once or twice daily, depending upon the severity of the condition.
  13. Necrotizing Soft-Tissue Infections – HBOT treatments are given at a pressure of 2.0-2.5 ATA of oxygen and range from 90 minutes twice daily during the initial phase of therapy, until there is no longer evidence of progression and infection is considered under control.  If the diagnosis is in doubt and clostridial myositis and myonecrosis are still in the differential diagnosis, treatment at 2.8-3.0 ATA is recommended, using the gas-gangrene protocol of 3 treatments in the first 24 hours.  Once the patient's condition is stabilized, and prior to treatment cessation, treatment once daily may be instituted to assure relapse will not occur.
  14. Radiation Necrosis – 30-60 treatments for 90-120 minutes at 2.0-2.5 ATA of oxygen daily followed by debridement or resection, depending upon stage of condition.
  15. Refractory Osteomyelitis Patients with Cierny-Mader stage 1 and 2 should primarily be treated with antibiotics and limited surgical debridement.  HBOT is not recommended for these patients.  Patients with refractory stage 3B and 4B osteomyelitis should be considered candidates for HBOT.  Treatment should be given for 90-120 minutes at 2.3-2.5 ATA of oxygen once daily for 5 days per week.  Approximately 20-40 postoperative treatments should be delivered over a 4-6 week period.
  16. Severe Anemia Pulsed HBOT provides a way to clinically rectify oxygen debt in severe anemia when transfusion is not possible.  The patient initially can be treated with 2.0-3.0 ATA of oxygen with air breaks for up to 3-4 hours with surface interval titrated to avert symptoms of recurring oxygen debt.  Surface intervals between treatments may be lengthened, with the support of adjunctive hematinics, until hemoglobin concentrations are sufficient to allow adequate oxygen delivery at standard pressures.
  17. Idiopathic Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss (ISSHL) – the recommended treatment profile consists of 100% O2 at 2.0 to 2.5 atmospheres absolute for 90 minutes daily for 10 to 20 treatments.  The 2.4 ATA treatment pressure is probably most practical, especially for facilities with multiplace chamber operations.  Patients with no known contraindications to steroid therapy should also be treated concomitantly with oral corticosteroids.  Continued consultation and follow-up with an otolaryngologist is recommended.

In 2012, the American Academy of Neurology and the American Headache Society released guidelines regarding the use of complementary treatments for episodic migraine prevention in adults (Holland, 2012).  These guidelines concluded that the data are conflicting or inadequate to support or refute hyperbaric oxygen for migraine prevention. 

The use of HBOT has been proposed for a wide range of conditions in addition to those addressed by the UHMS.  Most, including cerebral edema, spinal cord injury, and heat trauma have little in the way of clinical data to support HBOT therapy.  Further study of the impact of this treatment method for these conditions is warranted.

Systemic HBOT treatment for Tinnitus and Idiopathic Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) has been proposed as a treatment for tinnitus that frequently accompanies sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL).  In a meta-analysis of the peer-reviewed literature, Bennett and colleagues (2005) evaluated the safety and efficacy of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) for the treatment of ISSHL and tinnitus.  In a single trial, 50 subjects were assessed for improvement in hearing and tinnitus after treatment with HBOT.  Despite reporting improvement in hearing, the significance of any improvement in a subjective rating of tinnitus following HBOT could not be assessed due to poor reporting.  The authors concluded that due to the small study population, methodological shortcomings, and the poor reporting, there is a lack of clinical evidence of a "beneficial effect" of HBOT on the chronic presentation of tinnitus.  A randomized controlled trial of "high methodological rigor is justified to define those patients (if any) who can be expected to derive most benefit from HBOT" (Bennett, 2005).  

A recent search of the literature identified a nonrandomized, retrospective controlled study involving 48 subjects with ISSHL who received standard care plus HBOT compared to 44 subjects who received standard care (Ohno, 2010).  No significant differences were noted between groups with regard to mean hearing gain.  The authors conclude that "the effectiveness of secondary HBOT for ISSHL patients in either subacute or chronic phase remains unproven, and thus, the decision to administer HBOT should be made with caution."

Cvorovic (2013) published the results of another small randomized controlled trial (RCT) involving 50 subjects with SSHL assigned to either HBOT (n=25) or intratympanic steroid treatment.  There were significant differences between hearing thresholds at all frequencies before and after the HBOT.  Similarly, there were significant differences between hearing thresholds at most frequencies (except 2 kHz) before and after the treatment in the intratympanic treatment group.  The subgroups of participants with pure tone average less than 81 dB (decibels) and those who were 60 years of age or younger had better response to HBO treatment than those with profound deafness and in the elderly.  Unfortunately this study was too small and methodologically weak to generalize its findings to a wider population.

In 2014, Gaitanou and colleagues published a report of a prospective case series study involving 56 subjects with ISSHL.  All subjects were treated with 100% oxygen at 2 ATA for 120 minutes 5 times a week.  Treatment was conducted in five phases over several months.  Significant loss to follow-up was reported between phases.  All subjects completed the first two phases, while only 76.8%, 23.2%, and 10.7% completed the third, fourth and fifth phases, respectively.  The authors stated that overall, significant improvements were noted with regard to change in audiograms from baseline to final measurements (p<0.001), as well as tinnitus evaluation score, intensity, and tinnitus-related problems (p<0.001).  No differences were noted between subjects who received or did not receive adjunctive corticosteroids.  This small uncontrolled study indicates that there may be some benefit to HBOT therapy for ISSHL.  As with the Cvorovic study, the weak methodology of this study significantly lessens the generalizability of these findings.

Lui and colleagues (2011) published the results of a large retrospective case series study involving 465 subjects with SSHL, of which 353 received pharmacologic treatments alone (76 systemic steroid treatment only; 277 received steroids and dextran); and 112 were treated with hyperbaric oxygen in addition to steroids and dextran.  In subjects with initial hearing loss of > 90 dBHL (decibels hearing loss), the addition of hyperbaric oxygen to steroids and dextran resulted in a significant hearing gain difference of 24.5 ± 2.7 dB vs. with steroid only (12.9 ± 3.7 dB) or steroid-dextran (15.6 ± 2.7 dB), (p=0.030 for both comparisons).  Subjects with initial severe (71-90 dBHL) and less severe (≤ 70 dBHL) hearing loss responded to the addition of hyperbaric oxygen treatment with less favorable recoveries.  The authors concluded that when applied as an adjuvant to pharmacologic agents, hyperbaric oxygen benefits individuals with initial profound SSHL. While this study was fairly large, the lack of prospective methodology and blinding impair the utility of these results.

In October of 2011, the UHMS added ISSHL to their list of indications.  The rationale for this recommendation is based upon the findings reported in a Cochrane Review from 2010.  However, a reference for this specific report is not provided and a search for this report on the Cochrane website did not locate any relevant reports for that year.  In contrast, the Cochrane Library published a report on the use of HBOT for ISSHL by Bennett and others in 2012.  The conclusions of this report were as follows: 

For people with acute ISSHL, the application of HBOT significantly improved hearing, but the clinical significance remains unclear. We could not assess the effect of HBOT on tinnitus by pooled analysis. In view of the modest number of patients, methodological shortcomings and poor reporting, this result should be interpreted cautiously. An appropriately powered trial is justified to define those patients (if any) who can be expected to derive most benefit from HBOT.

There is no evidence of a beneficial effect of HBOT on chronic ISSHL or tinnitus and we do not recommend the use of HBOT for this purpose.

In 2012, the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS) published their clinical practice guideline for sudden hearing loss.  In this document they state; "The panel offered as options that clinicians may offer (1) corticosteroids as initial therapy to patients with ISSNHL [Idiopathic Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss] and (2) hyperbaric oxygen therapy within 3 months of diagnosis of ISSNHL."  This recommendation is based on aggregate evidence quality "Grade B, systematic review of RCTs with methodological limitations." 

Overall, the evidence supporting the use of HBOT for the treatment of SSHL and ISSHL is currently insufficient to draw reasonable conclusions about the efficacy of this therapy.

Traumatic Brain Injury

Miller et al. published the results of a double-blind, sham controlled RCT involving 72 subjects with post-concussion symptoms due to traumatic brain injury.  Subjects were randomized to undergo treatment in a 1:1:1 fashion to one of the following: 40 HBOT sessions at 1.5 ATA, 40 sham treatments with room air at 1.2 ATA, or no supplemental treatments.  While a significant difference was reported between both supplemental groups and the no-supplemental groups, (p=0.008), no differences were reported between the hyperbaric and the sham treatment groups.

Topical and Limb Specific Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Topical (including limb specific treatment) and systemic HBOT are distinct technologies and are applied by different methods.  As such, the outcomes associated with systemic HBOT cannot be extrapolated to topical therapy.  Topical HBOT has been primarily investigated as a treatment of chronic wounds, but other conditions have also been proposed as possible indications.  There is currently insufficient published data from controlled trials to permit conclusions regarding topical HBOT.  Additionally, evidence in the form of data from in vitro studies of limb specific HBOT have failed to demonstrate that this treatment method increases tissue oxygen tension beyond the superficial dermis, a key factor in the efficacy of HBOT.  At this time the use of topic and limb specific HBOT are not supported by the available scientific evidence.


Systemic Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Systemic hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) involves the inhalation of pure oxygen gas while enclosed in a high-pressure chamber (defined as pressure greater than standard atmospheric pressure).  The pressures used are usually between 1.4 to 3.0 atmospheres absolute (atm abs or ATA).  The therapy works by supersaturating the blood tissues with oxygen via increased atmospheric pressure as well as increased oxygen concentrations.  Studies have demonstrated that this therapy increases the available oxygen to the body by 10 to 20 times normal levels.  Treatment may be carried out in either a monoplace chamber pressurized with pure oxygen or in a larger, multiplace chamber pressurized with compressed air, in which case the individual receives pure oxygen by mask, head tent, or endotracheal tube.  The number and duration of treatment sessions and the atmospheric pressure during treatment varies depending on the specific condition being treated, the severity of the condition, and the procedures developed by individual hospitals and clinics.  These individual procedures vary widely and have made the evaluation of the efficacy of hyperbaric oxygen therapy difficult.  However, the medical specialty society which represents the physicians who specialize in this type of medical treatment, called the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS), created treatment recommendations for a wide variety of conditions for which HBOT has been proven to provide significant benefits.

Topical Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy and Limb-specific Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Topical HBOT involves the delivery of pure oxygen directly to an open, moist wound at a pressure slightly higher than atmospheric pressure.  Limb-specific HBOT involves the use of a plastic container into which the limb to be treated is inserted and then sealed with pliable gaskets.  The limb is then subjected to increased pressure and oxygen concentrations.  The rest of the body is not exposed to this treatment.  Much of the research on this form of therapy has focused on the treatment chronic wounds arising in individuals with diabetes–specifically foot wounds responsible for significant mortality and morbidity.  


Anemia: A reduction in the number of circulating red blood cells or in the total hemoglobin content of the cells.

Atmospheres absolute (ATA): The combination (or the sum) of the atmospheric pressure and the hydrostatic pressure is called atmospheres absolute (ATA).  In other words, the ATA or atmospheres absolute is the total weight of the water and air above us.

Carbon monoxide poisoning: Toxicity that results from inhalation of small amounts of carbon monoxide (a poisonous gas) over a long period of time or from large amounts inhaled for a short time, which leads to decreased oxygen delivery to the body and cerebral toxicity.

Chronic: Of a long duration; a disease that persists or progresses over time.

Cierny-Mader system for osteomyelitis:

Anatomic type:
Stage 1: medullary osteomyelitis
Stage 2: superficial osteomyelitis
Stage 3: localized osteomyelitis
Stage 4: diffuse osteomyelitis

Physiologic class:
A host: healthy
B host:

Bs: systemic compromise
Bl: local compromise
Bls: local and systemic compromise

C host: treatment worse than the disease

Compartmental syndrome: Any condition in which a structure, such as a nerve or tendon, is being constricted in a space and is no longer able to move freely in the compartment.

Decompression sickness: A condition that develops in divers subjected to rapid reduction of air pressure after coming to the surface following exposure to compressed air.

Gangrene: The death of tissue or bone, usually resulting from a deficient or absent blood supply.

Gas embolism: Obstruction of a blood vessel by a gas bubble.

Ischemia: A local and temporary deficiency of blood supply due to an obstruction of the circulation.

Limb specific hyperbaric oxygen: A therapy that involves sealing an individual's leg or arm into an airtight container and exposing that limb to pure oxygen greater than one atmosphere of pressure.

Mycosis: Any condition caused by a fungus.

Necrosis: A condition where cells or tissues are dead or dying.

Osteomyelitis: Inflammation of the bone due to infection.

Osteoradionecrosis: Death of bone following irradiation.

Prophylactic: Any agent or treatment that contributes to the prevention of infection or disease.

Pyoderma gangrenosum: A condition of the skin leading to open ulcers.

Systemic hyperbaric oxygen: A therapy that involves sealing an individual inside a room or container, then exposing the individual to pure oxygen at greater than one atmosphere of pressure.

Thermal: Related to heat.

Tinnitus: A condition where an individual has the perception of sound in their head when no outside sound is present. It is typically referred to as "ringing in the ears" or "head noise," but other forms of sound have been described such as hissing, roaring, pulsing, whooshing, chirping, whistling and clicking.

Topical hyperbaric oxygen: A therapy that involves sealing skin wounds under a plastic cover and then exposing the wound to pure oxygen at greater than one atmosphere of pressure; an alternate form of this therapy involves the application of a mist of water droplets to the wound that are saturated with dissolved oxygen.


The following codes for treatments and procedures applicable to this document are included below for informational purposes. Inclusion or exclusion of a procedure, diagnosis or device code(s) does not constitute or imply member coverage or provider reimbursement policy. Please refer to the member's contract benefits in effect at the time of service to determine coverage or non-coverage of these services as it applies to an individual member.

When services are Medically Necessary:

99183 Physician or other qualified health care professional attendance and supervision of hyperbaric oxygen therapy, per session
G0277 Hyperbaric oxygen under pressure, full body chamber, per 30 minute interval
ICD-10 Procedure  
5A05121 Extracorporeal hyperbaric oxygenation, intermittent
5A05221 Extracorporeal hyperbaric oxygenation, continuous
ICD-10 Diagnosis  
A42.0-A42.9 Actinomycosis
A48.0 Gas gangrene
B36.0-B36.9 Other superficial mycoses
B37.0-B37.9 Candidiasis
B46.0-B46.9 Zygomycosis
B48.0-B48.8 Other mycoses, not elsewhere classified
B49 Unspecified mycosis
D62 Acute posthemorrhagic anemia
G06.0 Intracranial abscess and granuloma
H34.10-H34.13 Central retinal artery occlusion
H70.201-H70.229 Petrositis
I74.2-I74.9 Embolism and thrombosis of arteries (upper/lower extremities, iliac artery)
I96 Gangrene, not elsewhere classified
I99.9 Unspecified disorder of circulatory system
K62.7 Radiation proctitis
L08.0-L08.9 Other local infections of skin and subcutaneous tissue
L59.9 Disorder of the skin and subcutaneous tissue related to radiation, unspecified
L88 Pyoderma gangrenosum
M27.2 Inflammatory conditions of jaws
M72.6 Necrotizing fasciitis
M79.9 Soft tissue disorder, unspecified
M79.A11-M79.A9 Nontraumatic compartment syndrome
M86.30-M86.69 Chronic osteomyelitis
M86.8X0-M86.8X9 Other osteomyelitis
M86.9 Osteomyelitis, unspecified
N30.40-N30.41 Irradiation cystitis
S07.0XXA-S07.9XXS Crushing injury of head
S17.0XXA-S17.9XXS Crushing injury of neck
S28.0XXA-S28.0XXS Crushed chest
S38.001A-S38.1XXS Crushing injury of abdomen, lower back, pelvis and external genitals
S45.001A-S45.099S Injury of axillary artery
S45.801A-S45.999S Unspecified injury of other blood vessels at shoulder and upper arm level
S47.1XXA-S47.9XXS Crushing injury of shoulder and upper arm
T20.20XA-T20.29XS Burn of second degree of head, face, and neck
T20.30XA-T20.39XS Burn of third degree of head, face, and neck
T21.20XA-T21.29XS Burn of second degree of trunk
T21.30XA-T21.39XS Burn of third degree of trunk
T22.20XA-T22.299S Burn of second degree of shoulder and upper limb, except wrist and hand
T22.30XA-T22.399S Burn of third degree of shoulder and upper limb, expect wrist and hand
T23.201A-T23.299S Burn of second degree of wrist and hand
T23.301A-T23.399S Burn of third degree of wrist and hand
T24.201A-T24.299S Burn of second degree of lower limb, except ankle and foot
T24.301A-T24.399S Burn of third degree of lower limb, except ankle and foot
T25.211A-T25.299S Burn of second degree of ankle and foot
T25.311A-T25.399S Burn of third degree of ankle and foot
T31.0-T31.99 Burns classified according to extent of body surface involved
T57.3X1A-T57.3X4S Toxic effect of hydrogen cyanide
T58.01XA-T58.94XS Toxic effect of carbon monoxide
T65.0X1A-T65.0X4S Toxic effect of cyanides
T66.XXXA-T66.XXXS Radiation sickness, unspecified
T70.3XXA-T70.3XXS Caisson disease [decompression sickness]
T79.0XXA-T79.0XXS Air embolism (traumatic)
T79.A0XA-T79.A0XS Compartment syndrome, unspecified
T79.A11A-T79.A9XS Traumatic compartment syndrome
T86.820-T86.829 Complications of skin graft (allograft)(autograft)

When services may be Medically Necessary when criteria are met:
For the procedure codes listed above, for the following diagnosis codes

ICD-10 Diagnosis  
E08.00-E11.9 Diabetes mellitus
E13.00-E13.9 Other specified diabetes mellitus
I73.89 Other specified peripheral vascular diseases
I73.9 Peripheral vascular disease, unspecified
L89.000-L89.95 Pressure ulcer
L97.101-L97.929 Non-pressure chronic ulcer of lower limb, not elsewhere classified
L98.411-L98.499 Non-pressure chronic ulcer of skin, not elsewhere classified
S01.00XS-S01.95XS Open wound of head [range with 7th character S]
S11.011S-S11.95XS Open wound of neck [range with 7th character S]
S21.001S-S21.95XS Open wound of thorax [range with 7th character S]
S31.000S-S31.839S Open wound of abdomen, lower back, pelvis and external genitals [range with 7th character S]
S41.001S-S41.159S Open wound of shoulder and upper arm [range with 7th character S]
S51.001S-S51.859S Open wound of elbow and forearm [range with 7th character S]

When services are Not Medically Necessary:
For the procedure codes listed above, when the situation listed in the Position Statement section as not medically necessary applies.

When services are Investigational and Not Medically Necessary:
For the procedure codes listed above, for all other diagnoses not listed; or when the code describes a procedure indicated in the Position Statement section as investigational and not medically necessary.

When services are also Investigational and Not Medically Necessary:

A4575 Topical hyperbaric oxygen chamber, disposable
ICD-10 Diagnosis  
  All diagnoses

Peer Reviewed Publications:

  1. Bennett M, Kertesz T, Yeung P. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss and tinnitus: a systemic review of randomized controlled trials. J Laryngol Otol. 2005; 119(10):791-798.
  2. Bevers RF, Bakker DJ, Kurth K. Hyperbaric oxygen treatment for haemorrhagic radiation cystitis. Lancet. 1995; 346(8978):803-805.
  3. Bill TJ, Hoard MA, Gampper TJ. Management of facial cutaneous defects, part II: applications of hyperbaric oxygen in otolaryngology head and neck surgery. Otolaryngol Clin North Am. 2001; 34(4):753-766.
  4. Capelli-Schellpfeffer M, Gerber GS. The use of hyperbaric oxygen in urology. J Urol. 1999; 162(3 Pt 1):647-654.
  5. Cesaro S, Brugiolo A, Faraci M, et al. Incidence and treatment of hemorrhagic cystitis in children given hematopoietic stem cell transplantation: a survey from the Italian association of pediatric hematology oncology-bone marrow transplantation group. Bone Marrow Transplant. 2003; 32(9):925-931.
  6. Chong KT, Hampson NB, Corman JM. Early hyperbaric oxygen therapy improves outcome for radiation-induced hemorrhagic cystitis. Urology. 2005; 65(4):649-653.
  7. Cierny G 3rd, Mader JT, Penninck JJ. A clinical staging system for adult osteomyelitis. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2003; (414):7-24.
  8. Clarke RE, Tenorio LM, Hussey JR, et al. Hyperbaric oxygen treatment of chronic refractory radiation proctitis: a randomized and controlled double-blind crossover trial with long-term follow-up. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2008; 72(1):134-143.
  9. Cvorovic L, Jovanovic MB, Milutinovic Z, et al. Randomized prospective trial of hyperbaric oxygen therapy and intratympanic steroid injection as salvage treatment of sudden sensorineural hearing loss. Otol Neurotol. 2013; 34(6):1021-1026.
  10. Di Piero V, Cappagli M, Pastena L, et al. Cerebral effects of hyperbaric oxygen breathing: a CBF SPECT study on professional divers. Eur J Neurol. 2002; 9(4):419-421.
  11. Efrati S, Fishlev G, Bechor Y, et al. Hyperbaric oxygen induces late neuroplasticity in post stroke patients--randomized, prospective trial. PLoS One. 2013; 8(1):e53716.
  12. Faglia E, Favales F, Aldeghi A, et al. Adjunctive systemic hyperbaric oxygen therapy in treatment of severe prevalently ischemic diabetic foot ulcer. A randomized study. Diabetes Care. 1996; 19(12):1338-1343.
  13. Feldmeier JJ, Hampson NB. A systematic review of the literature reporting the application of hyperbaric oxygen prevention and treatment of delayed radiation injuries: an evidence based approach. Undersea Hyperb Med. 2002; 29(1):4-30.
  14. Fife CE, Buyukcakir C, Otto G, et al. Factors influencing the outcome of lower-extremity diabetic ulcers treated with hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Wound Repair Regen. 2007; 15(3):322-331.
  15. Freiberger JJ, Padilla-Burgos R, McGraw T, et al. What is the role of hyperbaric oxygen in the management of bisphosphonate-related osteonecrosis of the jaw: a randomized controlled trial of hyperbaric oxygen as an adjunct to surgery and antibiotics. J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2012; 70(7):1573-1583.
  16. Gaitanou K, Fildissis G, Vavasis P, et al. Management of sudden hearing loss with hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Undersea Hyperb Med. 2014; 41(5):363-370.
  17. Hawkins M, Harrison J, Charters P. Severe carbon monoxide poisoning: outcome after hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Br J Anaesth. 2000; 84(5):584-586.
  18. Heng MC, Harker J, Csathy G, et al. Angiogenesis in necrotic ulcers treated with hyperbaric oxygen. Ostomy Wound Manage. 2000; 46(9):18-28, 30-32.
  19. Hulshof MC, Stark NM, van der Kleij A, et al. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for cognitive disorders after irradiation of the brain. Strahlenther Onkol. 2002; 178(4):192-198.
  20. Igor S, Mirko T, Dalibor P, et al. Hyperbaric oxygenation accelerates prosthetic rehabilitation of lower limb amputees. Undersea Hyperb Med. 2013; 40(3):289-297.
  21. Kalani M, Jorneskog G, Naderi N, et al. Hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) therapy in treatment of diabetic foot ulcers. Long-term follow-up. J Diabetes Complications. 2002; 16(2):153-158.
  22. Kochanek PM, Jenkins LW, Edward-Dixon C, Clark RS. HBO: It's not ready for prime time for the treatment of acute central nervous system trauma. Crit Care Med. 2001; 29(4):906-908.
  23. Korhonen K. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy in acute necrotizing infections. With a special reference to the effects on tissue gas tensions. Ann Chir Gynaecol. 2000; 89 (Suppl) 214:7-36.
  24. Lacey DJ, Stolfi A, Pilati LE. Effects of hyperbaric oxygen on motor function in children with cerebral palsy. Ann Neurol. 2012; 72(5):695-703.
  25. Landau Z, Schattner A. Topical hyperbaric oxygen and low energy laser therapy for chronic diabetic foot ulcers resistant to conventional treatment. Yale J Biol Med. 2001; 74(2):95-100.
  26. Liu SC, Kang BH, Lee JC, et al. Comparison of therapeutic results in sudden sensorineural hearing loss with/without additional hyperbaric oxygen therapy: a retrospective review of 465 audiologically controlled cases. Clin Otolaryngol. 2011; 36(2):121-128.
  27. Löndahl M, Katzman P, Nilsson A, Hammarlund C. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy facilitates healing of chronic foot ulcers in patients with diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2010; 33(5):998-1003. 
  28. Miller RS, Weaver LK, Bahraini N, et al. Effects of hyperbaric oxygen on symptoms and quality of life among service members with persistent postconcussion symptoms: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA Intern Med. 2015; 175(1):43-52.
  29. Muth CM, Shank ES. Gas embolism. N Engl J Med. 2000; 342(7):476-482.
  30. Myers RA. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for trauma: crush injury, compartment syndrome, and other acute traumatic peripheral ischemias. Int Anesthesiol Clin. 2000; 38(1):139-151.
  31. Nuthall G, Seear M, Lepawsky M, et al. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for cerebral palsy: two complications of treatment. Pediatrics. 2000; 106(6):E80.
  32. Ohno K, Noguchi Y, Kawashima Y, et al. Secondary hyperbaric oxygen therapy for idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss in the subacute and chronic phases. J Med Dent Sci. 2010; 57(2):127-132.
  33. Peng Z, Wang S, Huang X, Xiao P. Effect of hyperbaric oxygen therapy on patients with herpes zoster. Undersea Hyperb Med. 2012; 39(6):1083-1087.
  34. Rockswold SB, Rockswold GL, Vargo JM, et al. Effects of hyperbaric oxygenation therapy on cerebral metabolism and intracranial pressure in severely brain injured patients. J Neurosurg. 2001; 94(3):403-411.
  35. Rockswold SB, Rockswold GL, Zaun DA, et al. A prospective, randomized clinical trial to compare the effect of hyperbaric to normobaric hyperoxia on cerebral metabolism, intracranial pressure, and oxygen toxicity in severe traumatic brain injury. J Neurosurg. 2010; 112(5):1080-1094.
  36. Rusyniak DE, Kirk MA, May JD, et al. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy in acute ischemic stroke: results of the Hyperbaric Oxygen in Acute Ischemia Stroke Trial Pilot Study. Stroke. 2003; 34(2):571-574.
  37. Sampanthavivat M, Singkhwa W, Chaiyakul T, et al. Hyperbaric oxygen in the treatment of childhood autism: a randomised controlled trial. Diving Hyperb Med. 2012; 42(3):128-133.
  38. Scheinkestel CD, Bailey M, Myles PS, et al. Hyperbaric or normobaric oxygen for acute carbon monoxide poisoning: a randomized controlled clinical trial. Med J Aust. 1999; 170(5):203-210.
  39. Schoen PJ, Raghoebar GM, Bouma J, et al. Rehabilitation of oral function in head and neck cancer patients after radiotherapy with implant-retained dentures: effects of hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Oral Oncol. 2007; 43(4):379-388.
  40. Sen CK, Khanna S, Gordillo G, et al. Oxygen, oxidants, and antioxidants in wound healing: an emerging paradigm. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2002; 957:239-249.
  41. Shank ES, Muth CM. Decompression illness, iatrogenic gas embolism, and carbon monoxide poisoning: the role of hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Int Anesthesiol Clin. 2000; 38(1):111-138.
  42. Steele J, Zutshi D, Bradley WG. Negative results of a phase II study of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Amyotroph Lateral Scler. 2007; 8(5):274-275.
  43. Van Meter KW. A systematic review of the application of hyperbaric oxygen in the treatment of severe anemia: an evidence-based approach. Undersea Hyperb Med. 2005; 32(1):61-83.
  44. Weaver LK, Hopkins RO, Chan K, et al. Hyperbaric oxygen for acute carbon monoxide poisoning. N Engl J Med. 2002; 347(14):1057-1067.
  45. Wolf G, Cifu D, Baugh L, et al. The effect of hyperbaric oxygen on symptoms after mild traumatic brain injury. J Neurotrauma. 2012; 29(17):2606-2612.
  46. Wood Z. Hyperbaric oxygen in the management of chronic wounds. Br J Nurs. 2002; 11(16 Suppl):S16, S18-19, S22-24.
  47. Yogaratnam JZ, Laden G, Guvendik L, et al. Hyperbaric oxygen preconditioning improves myocardial function, reduces length of intensive care stay, and limits complications post coronary artery bypass graft surgery. Cardiovasc Revasc Med. 2010; 11(1):8-19.

 Government Agency, Medical Society, and Other Authoritative Publications: 

  1. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy in the Treatment of Hypoxic Wounds and Diabetic Wounds of the Lower Extremities. Technology Assessment 2001.
  2. American College of Emergency Physicians Clinical Policies Subcommittee (Writing Committee) on Critical Issues in the Management of Adult Patients Presenting to the Emergency Department with Carbon Monoxide Poisoning, Wolf SJ, Lavonas EJ, Sloan EP, Jagoda AS. Clinical policy: Critical issues in the management of adult patients presenting to the emergency department with acute carbon monoxide poisoning. Ann Emerg Med. 2008; 51(2):138-152.
  3. Bennett MH, Feldmeier J, Hampson NB, et al. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for late radiation tissue injury.  Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016;(4):CD005005.
  4. Bennett MH, Feldmeier J, Smee R, Milross C. Hyperbaric oxygenation for tumour sensitisation to radiotherapy. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2005;(4):CD005007.
  5. Bennett MH, French C, Schnabel A, et al. Normobaric and hyperbaric oxygen therapy for the treatment and prevention of migraine and cluster headache. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015;(12):CD005219.
  6. Bennett MH, Heard R. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for multiple sclerosis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2004;(1):CD003057.
  7. Bennett MH, Kertesz T, Perleth M, et al. Hyperbaric oxygen for idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss and tinnitus. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012;(10):CD004739.
  8. Bennett MH, Lehm JP, Mitchell SJ, Wasiak J. Recompression and adjunctive therapy for decompression illness. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012;(5):CD005277.
  9. Bennett MH, Stanford RE, Turner R. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for promoting fracture healing and treating fracture non-union. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012;(11):CD004712.
  10. Bennett MH, Trytko B, Jonker B. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for the adjunctive treatment of traumatic brain injury. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012;(12):CD004609.
  11. Bennett MH, Weibel S, Wasiak J, et al. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for acute ischaemic stroke. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014; 11:CD004954.
  12. Bennett MH, Weibel S, Wasiak J, et al. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for acute ischaemic stroke. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014;(11):CD004954.
  13. Buckley NA, Juurlink DN, Isbister G, et al. Hyperbaric oxygen for carbon monoxide poisoning. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011;(4):CD002041.
  14. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. National Coverage Determinations. Available at: . Accessed on June 13, 2017.
    • Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. NCD #20.29. Effective April 1, 2003.
  15. Eskes A, Vermeulen H, Lucas C, Ubbink DT. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for treating acute surgical and traumatic wounds. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013;(12):CD008059.
  16. Esposito M, Worthington HV. Interventions for replacing missing teeth: hyperbaric oxygen therapy for irradiated patients who require dental implants. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013;(9):CD003603.
  17. Holland NJ, Bernstein JM, Hamilton JW. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for Bell's palsy. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012;(2):CD007288.
  18. Holland S, Silberstein SD, Freitag F, et al.; Quality Standards Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology and the American Headache Society. Evidence-based guideline update: NSAIDs and other complementary treatments for episodic migraine prevention in adults: report of the Quality Standards Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology and the American Headache Society. Neurology. 2012; 78(17):1346-353.
  19. Kranke P, Bennett MH, Martyn-St James M, et al. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for chronic wounds. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015;(6):CD004123.
  20. Levett D, Bennett MH, Millar I. Adjunctive hyperbaric oxygen for necrotizing fasciitis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015;(1):CD007937.
  21. National Institutes of Health Consensus Development Conference Statement: Oral Complications of Cancer Therapies: Diagnosis, Prevention, and Treatment. 1989 (update 1995). Bethesda, MD.
  22. Phillips JS, Jones SE. Hyperbaric oxygen as an adjuvant treatment for malignant otitis externa. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013;(5):CD004617.
  23. Stachler RJ, Chandrasekhar SS, Archer SM, et al.; American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. Clinical practice guideline: sudden hearing loss. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2012; 146(3 Suppl):S1-35.
  24. Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society. Bennett M, Heard R. UHMS position statement: treatment of multiple sclerosis with hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Undersea Hyperb Med. 2001; 28(3):117-122.
  25. Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society. Feldmeier JJ, Hopf HW, Warriner RA 3rd, et al. UHMS position statement: topical oxygen for chronic wounds. Undersea Hyperb Med. 2005; 32(3):157-168.
  26. Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Indications (2014). Available at: . Accessed on June 2, 2017.
  27. Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society. Idiopathic Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss (2011). Available at: . Accessed on June 2, 2017.
  28. United States Navy Dive Manual, Revision 6. Treatment table 6. Page 20-41. Available at: Accessed on June 2, 2017. 
  29. Yang Z, Hu J, Qu Y, Sun F, et al. Interventions for treating gas gangrene. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015;(12):CD010577.
  30. Xiao Y, Wang J, Jiang S, Luo H. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for vascular dementia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012;(7):CD009425.
Websites for Additional Information
  1. National Library of Medicine. Medical Encyclopedia. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Available at: Accessed on June 2, 2017.

Air embolism
Extreme chamber therapy
Extremity oxygen therapy
Osteomyelitis, acute and chronic

The use of specific product names is illustrative only. It is not intended to be a recommendation of one product over another, and is not intended to represent a complete listing of all products available.

Document History
Status Date Action
Reviewed 08/03/2017 Medical Policy & Technology Assessment Committee (MPTAC) review.  Updated Definitions, Coding and References sections.
Revised 08/04/2016 MPTAC review. Minor typographical revision in position statement. Updated Rationale and Reference sections. Updated Coding section and removed ICD-9 codes.
Reviewed 08/06/2015 MPTAC review. Updated Rationale and Reference sections. 
Reviewed 11/14/2013 MPTAC review. No change to the position statement. Updated Rationale and Reference sections. 
Reviewed 11/08/2012 MPTAC review. Updated Rationale and Reference sections. Updated Coding section with 01/01/2013 CPT descriptor change.
Reviewed 11/17/2011 MPTAC review. Updated reference section.
Revised 11/18/2010 MPTAC review. Moved HBOT treatment of tinnitus to investigational and not medically necessary section from MED.00073 Treatment of Tinnitus which was archived. Updated Rationale and Reference sections.
Reviewed 02/25/2010 MPTAC review. Updated Reference section.
  10/01/2009 Updated Coding section with 10/01/2009 ICD-9 changes.
Revised 02/26/2009 MPTAC review. Clarified use in chronic wounds to require reassessment at each subsequent 30 day interval. Added central retina artery occlusion (CRAO) as a medically necessary indication. Added central retina artery occlusion (CRAO) as a medically necessary indication. Changed "profound" anemia to "severe" anemia in medically necessary section. Deleted "acute" osteomyelitis and cerebral edema from the medically necessary section.  Revised medically necessary statement regarding radiation necrosis to read "delayed radiation injury". Deleted list of I/E and NMN indications, leaving it to read I/E and NMN "for all indications". Updated Rationale, Background, Coding and Reference sections.
Revised 08/28/2008 MPTAC review. Added radiation cystitis as medically necessary when used as an adjuvant therapy. Added tinnitus to investigational and not medically necessary section. Deleted "intracranial abscess" from investigational and not medically necessary section. Revised Rationale section. Updated Coding section with 10/01/2008 ICD-9 changes.
Reviewed 05/15/2008 MPTAC review. Updated Coding and Reference sections.
  02/21/2008 The phrase "investigational/not medically necessary" was clarified to read "investigational and not medically necessary." This change was approved at the November 29, 2007 MPTAC meeting.
Reviewed 05/17/2007 MPTAC review. Updated Coding and Reference sections.
Revised 06/08/2006 MPTAC review. Moved radiation cystitis from Investigational and Not Medically Necessary to Medically Necessary. Updated Coding and Reference sections.



11/22/2005 Added reference for Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) – National Coverage Determination (NCD).
Revised 07/14/2005 MPTAC review. Revision based on Pre-merger Anthem and Pre-merger WellPoint Harmonization.
Pre-Merger Organizations Last Review Date Document Number Title
Anthem, Inc. 04/28/2005 MED.00005 Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (Systemic/Topical)
WellPoint Health Networks, Inc. 04/28/2005 2.01.01 Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy:  Systemic
  09/23/2004 2.02.01 Oxygen Therapy (Low Pressure) for Wound Care