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Chronic wounds are a significant socioeconomic problem for governments worldwide. Approximately 15% of people who suffer from diabetes will experience a lower-limb ulcer at some stage of their lives, and 24% of these wounds will ultimately result in amputation of the lower limb. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) has been shown to aid the healing of chronic wounds; however, the causal reasons for the improved healing remain unclear and hence current HBOT protocols remain empirical. Here we develop a three-species mathematical model of wound healing that is used to simulate the application of hyperbaric oxygen therapy in the treatment of wounds. Based on our modelling, we predict that intermittent HBOT will assist chronic wound healing while normobaric oxygen is ineffective in treating such wounds. Furthermore, treatment should continue until healing is complete, and HBOT will not stimulate healing under all circumstances, leading us to conclude that finding the right protocol for an individual patient is crucial if HBOT is to be effective. We provide constraints that depend on the model parameters for the range of HBOT protocols that will stimulate healing. More specifically, we predict that patients with a poor arterial supply of oxygen, high consumption of oxygen by the wound tissue, chronically hypoxic wounds, and/or a dysfunctional endothelial cell response to oxygen are at risk of nonresponsiveness to HBOT. The work of this paper can, in some way, highlight which patients are most likely to respond well to HBOT (for example, those with a good arterial supply), and thus has the potential to assist in improving both the success rate and hence the cost-effectiveness of this therapy.

Original publication

DOI

10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000451

Type

Journal article

Journal

PLoS Comput Biol

Publication Date

07/2009

Volume

5

Keywords

Algorithms, Chronic Disease, Computer Simulation, Diabetic Foot, Humans, Hyperbaric Oxygenation, Models, Biological, Neovascularization, Physiologic, Wound Healing, Wounds and Injuries