Inconsistent results have been reported for hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBO) for acute stroke. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to evaluate the benefit of HBO in animal studies of middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO).


A systematic search of the literature published prior to September 2015 was performed using Embase, Medline (OvidSP), Web of Science and PubMed. Keywords included “hyperoxia” OR “hyperbaric oxygen” OR “HBO” AND “isch(a)emia” OR “focal cerebral ischemia” OR “stroke” OR “infarct” OR “middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO).” The primary endpoints were the infarct size and/or neurological outcome score evaluated after HBO treatment in MCAO. Heterogeneity was analyzed using Cochrane Library’s RevMan 5.3.5.


Fifty-one studies that met the inclusion criteria were identified among the 1198 studies examined. When compared with control group data, HBO therapy resulted in infarct size reduction or improved neurological function (32% decrease in infarct size; 95% confidence interval (CI), range 28%–37%; p < 0.00001). Mortality was 18.4% in the HBO group and 26.7% in the control group (RR 0.72, 95% CI, 0.54–0.98; p = 0.03). Subgroup analysis showed that a maximal neuro-protective effect was reached when HBO was administered immediately after MCAO with an absolute atmospheric pressure (ATA) of 2.0 (50% decrease; 95% CI, 43% -57% decrease; p < 0.0001) and more than 6 hours HBO treatment (53% decrease; 95% CI, 41% -64% decrease; p = 0.0005).


HBO had a neuro-protective effect and improved survival in animal models of MCAO, especially in animals given more than 6 hours of HBO and when given immediately after MCAO with 2.0 ATA.

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