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.