Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for painful bladder syndrome/interstitial cystitis resistant to conventional treatments: long-term results of a case series in Japan

Tomoaki Tanaka*, Yujiro Nitta, Kazuya Morimoto, Noriaki Nishikawa, Chikako Nishihara, Satoshi Tamada, Hidenori Kawashima and Tatsuya Nakatani
*Corresponding author: Tomoaki Tanaka


There is no confirmed strategy for treating painful bladder syndrome/interstitial cystitis (PBS/IC) with unclear etiology. Therefore, a pilot study was carried out to evaluate the efficacy and safety of hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) therapy in treatment-resistant PBS/IC patients.

HBO treatment (2.0 ATA for 60 minutes/day × 5 days/week for 2 or 4 weeks) was performed on 11 patients with severe symptoms that had not been improved by previous therapy regimens between December 2004 and July 2009.

Seven of the 11 patients demonstrated persistent improvement in symptoms during the 12 months after HBO treatment. These responders demonstrated a decrease in the pelvic pain scale and urgency scale from 7.7 ± 1.0 and, 6.6 ± 0.9 to 3.4 ± 2.5 and 4.3 ± 2.4 after 12 months, respectively (p < 0.05). The total score of the interstitial cystitis symptom index and 24-hour urinary frequency demonstrated a significant sustained decrease from the baseline. Two responders, who received an additional course of HBO 12 and 13 months after initial treatment, respectively, did not suffer impairment for more than two years. There was one case of transient eustachian tube dysfunction and three cases of reversible exudative otitis media as a consequence of HBO treatment.

HBO is a potent treatment for PBS/IC patients resistant to conventional therapy. It was well tolerated and provided maintained amelioration of pain, urgency and urinary frequency for at least 12 months.



Safety and efficacy of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for the treatment of interstitial cystitis: a randomized, sham controlled, double-blind trial


van Ophoven A, Rossbach G, Pajonk F, Hertle L.


Source:  Department of Urology, Universitätsklinikum Münster and Center for Hyperbaric Medicine, Münster, Germany.
Erratum in:  J Urol. 2007 Apr;177(4):1588.



We conducted a double-blind, sham controlled study to evaluate the safety, efficacy and feasibility of hyperbaric oxygenation for interstitial cystitis.

A total of 21 patients with interstitial cystitis were randomized to 90 minutes treatment in a hyperbaric chamber pressurized with 100% O2 to 2.4 atmosphere absolute for 30 treatments sessions or 1.3 atmosphere absolute, breathing normal air in the control group. Moderate or marked improvement in a global response assessment questionnaire was defined as treatment response (primary outcomes). Secondary measurements included changes of pain and urgency evaluated by visual analog scales, functional bladder capacity and frequency. Changes in the O’Leary-Sant Interstitial Cystitis Index and rating of overall satisfaction with the therapeutic outcome were also reported.

There were 3 of 14 patients on verum and no control patients who were identified as responders (p < 0.52) [corrected] At 12-month followup 3 patients (21.4%) still reported treatment response. Hyperbaric oxygenation resulted in a decrease of baseline urgency intensity from 60.2 +/- 15.0 to 49.9 +/- 35.2 mm at 3 months and decrease of pain intensity from 43.1 +/- 20.5 to 31.2 +/- 19.8 mm, respectively (p < 0.05). The Interstitial Cystitis Symptom Index score sum decreased from 25.7 to 19.9 points in patients on verum. Sham treatment did not result in improvement of the baseline parameters.

A total of 30 treatment sessions of hyperbaric oxygenation appear to be a safe, effective and feasible therapeutic approach to interstitial cystitis. In the treatment responders application of hyperbaric oxygenation resulted in a sustained decrease of interstitial cystitis symptoms with a discordant profile regarding the peak amelioration of the various interstitial cystitis symptoms compared with a normobaric, normoxic sham treatment.