515 Main Street, Olean, New York 14760
(716) 373-2600

Olean General Hospital

Center for Wound Healing

Hyperbaric Oxygen Chamber

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy at Olean General Hospital is administered in state-of-the-art, Sechrist model 3300E chambers.

The monoplace, or one-person, chamber is large enough to hold a seven-foot tall patient. It is constructed of a steel frame with a see through acrylic cylinder, which provides a sense of spaciousness. The chambers have a pressure capability of 3.0 atmospheres absolute, which is triple the normal atmospheric pressure. Technical innovations allow critically ill and ventilator dependent patients to undergo treatment in the monoplace chamber.

After changing into special 100% cotton clothing, provided by the center, the patient will lie down for treatment in the hyperbaric oxygen chamber. During the treatment you can watch television or a videotaped movie (DVD or VHS), listen to music, or nap. A two-way intercom enables the patient to communicate with a staff member who will be present at all times during the treatment.

Stages & Side Effects

The three (3) distinct stages of hyperbaric oxygen therapy are:

  • Compression
    During compression the patient may feel a “fullness or popping” of the ears similar to the experience of traveling in an airplane or driving down a mountain. Throughout this stage of therapy, the chamber operator will explain and demonstrate methods for the patient to safely clear or relieve the pressure in their ears.
  • Prescribed Treatment Pressure
    Upon arriving at the prescribed treatment pressure, the patient will remain pressurized in a 100% oxygen environment. The patient will hear a slight “hissing” sound as the oxygen is circulated in the hyperbaric chamber. This sound will not prohibit the patient from enjoying entertainment options provided or a comfortable sleep. Chamber temperature can also be adjusted via a control valve to provide optimal patient comfort.
  • Decompression
    During decompression (ascent), as pressure is released from the chamber, the patient may experience a “crackling” sensation in their ears. This is easily relieved by swallowing or yawning.

Although rare, exposure to hyperbaric oxygen may produce some side effects. This will be discussed with the patient during orientation by the Hyperbaric Physician.


In anticipation of exposure to the hyperbaric environment, there are certain medications that may require adjustment or substitution due to exaggerated or diminished effects during treatment. These drugs include some cancer medications, nicotine products and alcohol consumed within eight (8) hours of treatment. Any change in medication or ongoing medical care will be coordinated between the hyperbaric physician and the primary treating physician. Any potential need for these changes will usually be clarified after the initial visit to the center and a comprehensive history obtained by the medical and nursing staff.


Nicotine reduces the effectiveness of hyperbaric oxygen therapy and many wound healing processes. The patient must stop using tobacco once therapy has been prescribed, until the therapy is complete. Cigarettes, pipe tobacco, cigars, snuff, nicotine gum and patches are all detrimental to the healing process. Please notify the hyperbaric medical staff if you feel that these issues will present a problem for you.

Colds and Other Symptoms

The patient should notify a member of the hyperbaric medicine staff if they have any symptoms of illness including a cold, flu, cough, sore throat, runny nose, fever blister, cold sores, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and general “ache-all-over” feelings.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy may be postponed until symptoms subside and the patient has been cleared by the hyperbaric physician to resume the therapy.

Hyperbaric Chamber Safety

Electronics, metal objects, make-up, hair spray, nail polish, perfume, deodorant or lotions with petroleum or alcohol bases are not allowed during the course of therapy due to safety concerns. Please discuss any questions with the hyperbaric medicine staff to ensure your safety. There are posters located on the walls of the center to remind staff and the patients of the importance of safety including items that are prohibited from entering the hyperbaric environment.

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