Emirati girl’s fingers saved after home accident in Abu Dhabi
A young Emirati girl’s fingers were saved from amputation thanks to more than 15 hours in an oxygen chamber after a horrific accident at home.
The 13-year-old Abu Dhabi resident suffered multiple fractures and severe damage to three middle fingers after a heavy marble table top fell on to her left hand.
When the fingers began to turn black, doctors feared gangrene had set in when blood was unable to flow freely to her hand because of the damaged blood vessels.
Without this treatment, she would likely have had gangrene and lost her fingers
Dr Mohab Ahmed Shafei, Burjeel Medical City
The girl, who doctors did not name, underwent emergency bone fixation surgery and immediate hyperbaric oxygen therapy at Burjeel Darak Centre at Burjeel Medical City in the capital to restore damaged tissue.
After 10 sessions on consecutive days, the girl showed strong signs of recovery, and doctors are confident she will regain the use of her hand.
“Without this treatment, she would likely have had gangrene and lost her fingers,” said Dr Mohab Ahmed Shafei, a specialist in hyperbaric oxygen therapy at BMC.
“There is no blood supply or oxygen to reach the distal tissue in her fingers, so the oxygen therapy helps develop new tissue and vessels.
“In this case, a plastic surgeon was also involved in the treatment as one of her fingers need some work to encourage healthy tissue to grow.
“We are hoping that two of the three fingers will go back to normal function.”
Although few clinics in the UAE offer oxygen therapy, it is becoming more common in the treatment of extreme cases of crushed limbs, hands and feet.
At the same hospital, a 46-year-old man with gangrene had his foot saved thanks to 30 sessions in an oxygen chamber.
Sessions usually last 90 minutes, and the experienced change in pressure is similar to that on an aircraft, when cabin pressure alters during take-off and landing.
Pressure decreases gradually towards the end of each session to match that outside the chamber.
Normal atmospheric oxygen saturation is about 20.8 per cent, but oxygen inside the chamber is 100 per cent to promote recovery.
The therapy is effective because it brings oxygen-rich plasma to tissue starved of oxygen by injury or disease. The resultant swelling deprives cells of oxygen, causing them to slowly degenerate.
The BMC chamber is the only one in use in Abu Dhabi and can be used only by a trained and licensed hyperbaric doctor.
The therapy has previously shown effectiveness in treating symptoms of long Covid.
“It is very effective for the treatment of crush injuries, particularly when there is this kind of trauma to the hands and feet, causing damage to the nerve cells,” Dr Shafei said.
“It is also very effective in treating chronic ulcers, particularly in diabetes patients, those with burns, hearing loss and carbon monoxide poisoning.
“Few centres in the UAE offer this kind of therapy, [but] we expect it to become more widespread in the future.
“It has huge benefits and has saved a large number of patients from amputation.
“It needs to be administered very quickly, as soon as there is a restriction of blood flow to a limb, such as in a crush injury.
“Many of the injuries sustained in the recent earthquake in Turkey and Syria would benefit from this, but there are only a few hospitals in Turkey with facilities.”