Background: To extract from the biomedical published reports, the effects of hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) on inflammatory disease, in particular acute pancreatitis. This review will explain these effects and evaluate potential mechanisms of action of HBO in acute pancreatitis.
Methods: A Medline/PubMed search (January 1966 to July 2004) with manual cross-referencing was conducted, including all relevant articles investigating the molecular and systemic effects of HBO on inflammatory diseases, particularly focusing on the studies of acute pancreatitis. All publication types, languages and subsets were searched.
Results: Original and review articles and short communications were extracted. The selected original articles covered the molecular and systemic effects of HBO and the effects in inflammatory disease states. The major findings are that HBO can act as an anti-inflammatory agent and as an antimicrobial agent. Many of the effects of HBO would be beneficial in the treatment of acute severe pancreatitis. Work carried out to date in animal models of acute pancreatitis shows promising improvements in severity but studies are limited to date.
Conclusion: Acute pancreatitis impairs the pancreatic and systemic microcirculation and causes acute inflammation. These processes are potentially improved by HBO therapy.