Hyperbaric chambers are large, tubular-shaped compartments that deliver pressurized oxygen to one or more patients who have experienced trauma. These chambers are constructed of lightweight metal, acrylic crystal or clear plastic.
Two types of hyperbaric chambers are commonly constructed: monoplace, which treats a single person, and multiplace, treating several people simultaneously. The size of the chamber affects internal structure and the way oxygen is delivered. Portable monoplace chambers may have wheels while those used by divers on ships may be constructed with flexible fabrics.
Each type of chamber provides a pallet on which patients may lie comfortably. In monoplace systems, 100 percent pressurized oxygen is delivered as ambient air via a tube system. Multiplace chambers have multiple pallets as well as seating and space for observers and medical personnel. Compressed air is present in the chamber while patients breathe oxygen via a mask, head tent or endotracheal tube.
A number of mechanical subsystems are crucial to hyperbaric chamber operation, but they are located outside the actual unit. These include heating, air-conditioning and ventilation systems; high-pressure oxygen contractors; oxygen tanks; associated oxygen supplies; and ancillary medical support equipment.