decompression illness


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Related to decompression illness: bends, decompression sickness, nitrogen narcosis, Henry's law, caisson sickness

decompression illness

Aeroembolism due to an excessively rapid ascent to the surface by a deep-sea diver. Synonym: bends; caisson disease; Synonym: diver's palsy See: aeroembolism

Treatment

Affected patients should be transported to specialized treatment centers where recompression or hyperbaric chambers are available.

See also: illness

decompression illness

the adverse effects of uncontrolled return to normal ambient pressure following exposure to high pressure when surfacing from a dive or, less commonly, exposure to rapid reduction in pressure in ascent from sea level in unpressurized aircraft. Symptoms range from pains in the joints, chest and back, weakness or sensory loss, to paralysis and loss of consciousness; severe neurological symptoms can be life-threatening. There are two main causes: (1) damage to the lungs by expansion of the gas in them if a diver does not freely exhale when surfacing. Gas can leak into the circulating blood (air embolus) or into the pleural cavity (pneumothorax); (2) release in the tissues (e.g. around joints or in the spinal cord) of bubbles of nitrogen that was dissolved in body fluids whilst at the higher pressure. Avoided or minimized by using computed tables to control speed of ascent and frequency of pauses, in relation to the duration and depth of the dive. All types of decompression illness require oxygen breathing as a first aid measure, and urgent treatment for all but the mildest by recompression to the initial higher pressure in a hyperbaric chamber, so that nitrogen is redissolved in body fluids, then more gradually released and exhaled as pressure is allowed to fall. See also diving.
References in periodicals archive ?
The emergencies that could arise can range from carbon monoxide poisoning to decompression illness and air embolism, to rapidly progressing infections such as necrotizing fasciitis.
The Hyperbaric Medicine Unit is based at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, Scotland, and provides recompression treatment for decompression illness and hyperbaric oxygen therapy for carbon monoxide poisoning, osteoradionecrosis, and other wounds and infections.
Mr Gray, an Advanced Diving Instructor, immediately recognised the classic symptoms of decompression illness, known as `the bends', and placed Mr Lowe on Shearwater's emergency medical oxygen facility.
Virginia Commonwealth University Professor of Anesthesiology and Emergency Medicine, Director of Research (Anesthesiology) and Director of VCURES said, "These grants will allow us to expand upon the previous studies which showed that early intervention with Oxycyte can prevent the destruction of nerve cells, brain tissue in a number of conditions including decompression illness and gas embolism.
Clinical Assistant Professor, Director of the LSU School of Medicine Hyperbaric Medicine Fellowship in New Orleans, and author of recently published The Oxygen Revolution (Hatherleigh Press, NY), said that he made this discovery when he first applied HBOT to divers with a disabling form of "the bends," brain decompression illness.