Hyperbaric Chamber comes to Manzanillo!

 by Susan Dearing

Though Underworld Scuba – Scuba Shack has a 100% safety record and has never had a diver with Decompression Sickness (DCS), others have not been so lucky, especially fishermen who are hunting octopus, clams and other shellfish that we foreigners happily consume.

The addition of a recompression chamber to Manzanillo is a boon—not only for divers, but it is also used to treat a variety of other illnesses.


Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBO therapy) is a medical treatment that allows patients to breathe pure oxygen inside a pressurized chamber.  During typical treatments, the hyperbaric chamber is pressurized to 2.5 times normal atmospheric pressure.


Hyperbaric oxygen treatments are used in medicine to treat specific conditions approved by the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS). The hyperbaric team, operating under Dr. Mario A. Gutierrez Carrillo will be responsible for your hyperbaric therapy and will coordinate your care with your referring primary physician. Both technicians, Nelson Pineda Vazquez and José F. Pérez Cortez, have been specially trained to operate the hyperbaric chamber. You should continue to contact your primary physician for general care.


100% Oxygen delivered at increased pressure produces an increase in the amount of oxygen being carried by blood. This results in more oxygen being delivered to the organs and tissues in the body. This improves the benefits of certain antibiotics, activates white blood cells to fight infection, and promotes the healing process in chronic wounds.


  • Decompression Sickness

  • Carbon Monoxide poisoning

  • Gangrene

  • Anemia

  • Circulation in feet due to diabetes

  • Stress

  • Revitalization

  • Ulcers

  • Migraine

  • Arthritis

  • Depression

  • Infections

  • Burns

  • Air embolism

  • Osteomielitis

  • Bell's Palsy

  • Retinal artery occlusion

Technician Nelson Pineda Vazquez
30 years ago: hard hat diving

The location of “Unidad Integral Hiperbarica” is on Av. Mariano Azuela #586, across from the Hospital Civil on Elias Zamora. You will be able to see this sign painted on the building from Elias Zamora.

They also have a generic pharmacy offering up to 75% off on medicines. Phone 334-8202 or cellular 044-314-358-7992. E-mail: unihiperbarica@hotmail.com.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is approved by the American Food & Drug Administration, the American Medical Association, and in Mexico, Instituto Mexicanos de Seguro Social (ISSSTE), as well as other official institutions.


The use of increased atmosphere pressure for medical therapy has intrigued many physicians, scientists, and lay persons for hundreds of years. Vague accounts of increased atmosphere pressures used on humans date to the fifth century BC. Henshaw, a British clergyman, built the first sealed chamber, termed the Domicilium, in 1662. This chamber compressed air (21% oxygen) for numerous ailments such as inflammation, scurvy, arthritis, and rickets but likely had too little compression to do any physical good.

Following Priestley's discovery of oxygen in the late 1700s, Beddoes developed a pneumatic laboratory enriched with oxygen to treat chronic conditions such as leprosy. In the early 1930s, the Junod reported improvement in patients with cardiorespiratory disorders when treated in 2 ATM of pressure in a copper compression chamber. These early reports spawned the creation of a number of "pneumatic institutes" in Europe. These chambers were able to treat up to 10 people at once and reached pressures of 2 or more ATM. Compression therapy became the "in vogue" spas of the day. Pneumatic spas came to North America in 1860, with the first compression chamber built in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada.

The French surgeon Fontaine built a mobile pressurized operating suite in 1879. Patients reportedly had better outcomes because of improved oxygenation and decreased postoperative vomiting and cyanosis. Easier reduction of hernias was noted. Corning introduced the therapeutic compression chamber to the US in 1891 to treat nervous and mental afflictions. This chamber was the first operated by electric power.

Orville Cunningham noted 25 years later that patients with certain cardiovascular disorders improved when moved from high altitudes to sea-level altitudes. He discovered this during the Spanish flu epidemic in 1918, which resulted in more than 500,000 deaths. Many of these victims died in a cyanotic state. Under the care of Dr Cunningham, a rather sick resident physician was treated in the compression chamber and recovered completely. Cunningham subsequently built an 88-ft long and 10-ft wide chamber to treat numerous patients, with remarkable success. The credibility of the compression chamber was reinforced during treatment of flu patients. One night when the chamber's power accidentally was shut off, all patients died. At the time, the interpretation credited hyperbaric therapy with keeping the patients alive. When the compression stopped, these patients died. However, the deaths were likely the result of rapid ascent from the compression rather than the secondary effects of the Spanish flu.

In 1928, Mr Timkin, an appreciative patient whose uremic state was resolved after receiving hyperbaric therapies, constructed for Cunningham an enormous 60-ft tall, 6-story hyperbaric hospital that looked like a steel sphere. Conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, syphilis, and cancer were treated here until 1930, when the local medical society closed the hyperbaric hospital for lack of scientific evidence or merit. After 1930, much of the medical or scientific community did not look favorably upon the use of hyperbaric medicine.

Supplemental use of oxygen increased with availability after this time. The military soon had an increased interest in underwater activities, and this promoted the use of oxygen and hyperbaric medicine for diving and decompression sickness. Hyperbaric medicine treatments had sound physiologic principles based on known physics of mixed gas when treating decompression sickness.

A flurry of interest in therapeutic hyperbaric medicine was fostered by Dr I. Boerema, who, while in Amsterdam in 1956, reported hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) as an aid in cardiopulmonary surgery, particularly for congenital conditions such as tetralogy of Fallot, transposition of great vessels, and pulmonic stenosis. A colleague of Boerema's, W. H. Brummelkamp, also interested in hyperbaric medicine, discovered in 1959 (and subsequently published in 1961) that anaerobic infections were inhibited by hyperbaric therapy. Meanwhile, Boerema had published an article, "Life without blood," a report of fatally anemic pigs treated successfully with volume expansion and pressurized hyperoxygenation. Boerema often is credited as the father of modern-day hyperbaric medicine.

In 1962, Smith and Sharp reported the enormous benefits of HBO in carbon monoxide poisoning. International interest thus was rekindled, and HBO therapy was thrust into the modern era. Hyperbaric units subsequently were built at Duke University, New York Mount Sinai Hospital, Presbyterian Hospital and Edgeworth Hospital in Chicago, Good Samaritan in Los Angeles, St. Barnaby Hospital in New Jersey, Harvard Children's Hospital, and St. Luke's Hospital in Milwaukee. Further chambers were installed in numerous international sites.

The benefits of hyperbaric medicine subsequently were observed for split-thickness skin graft acceptance, flap survival and salvage, wound re-epithelization, and acute thermal burns. These studies lent credibility to the therapeutic employment of HBO therapy. This fostered the establishment of organized scientific congresses and societies such as the International Congress on Hyperbaric Oxygen and the Undersea Medical Society. Unfortunately, as the availability of hyperbaric medicine chambers increased, the indiscriminate and inappropriate use of the chamber for a variety of medical conditions by practitioners searching for a "cure-all" therapy resulted in a backlash from the scientific society, once again tarnishing the credibility of hyperbaric medicine. As a result, by the late 1970s, the Undersea Medical Society had formulated guidelines for the use of hyperbaric therapy.

Researchers conducting wound-healing studies continued to try to take advantage of the angiogenic properties of increasing oxygen gradients resulting from hyperbaric therapy. Foot wounds from diabetes, radiation ulcers, and other ischemic wounds have been manipulated and successfully treated with HBO. Prospective blinded randomized trials and well-executed laboratory studies continue to further define the role of hyperbaric therapy in medical therapeutics.

In 1989, in recognition of advances in hyperbaric treatments, the American Board of Medical Specialists approved a certification of added competency in Undersea Medicine. The National Board of Hyperbaric Medicine Technology gave its first certification to hyperbaric technicians in 1991. In 1986, the Undersea Medical Society changed its name to the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society.