To investigate the clinical effectiveness of treatment with hyperbaric oxygen for neonates with hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy. This treatment is frequently used in China but much less often in the West.
Western (Cochrane controlled trials register and database of systematic reviews, Medline, Embase, CINAHL, and HealthSTAR) and Chinese (China Hospital Digital Library, Chinese Medical Journal Network) databases and hand search of Chinese journals. No language restrictions.
Randomised or quasi-randomised controlled trials of treatment with hyperbaric oxygen compared with “usual care” in term neonates with hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy. Outcomes included mortality and long term neurological sequelae. Standardised forms were used to extract and compare data. Criteria of York Centre for Reviews and Dissemination were used to assess quality. Analysis was mainly qualitative but included meta-analysis.
20 trials were found, mainly from Chinese sources. The reporting quality of trials was poor by Western (CONSORT) standards. Treatment with hyperbaric oxygen had better outcomes than the comparator in almost all trials. The odds ratios of the meta-analyses were 0.26 (95% confidence interval 0.14 to 0.46) for mortality and 0.41 (0.27 to 0.61) for neurological sequelae.
Treatment with hyperbaric oxygen possibly reduces mortality and neurological sequelae in term neonates with hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy. Because of the poor quality of reporting in all trials and the possibility of publication bias, an adequately powered, high quality randomised controlled trial is needed to investigate these findings. The Chinese medical literature may be a rich source of evidence to inform clinical practice and other systematic reviews.