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page is written and maintained by
S Campbell, MD, FACS
First described in 1841,
sickness has gradually become better understood. Sport divers have
a large body of material to study causing us to be able to learn more
the illness. It's safe to say that DCS is caused by the production of
bubbles in the circulation, and this is related to the depthand time of
a dive and to rate at which the diver ascends from depth. DCS and AGE
form what is known as "decompression illness".
Called "bends" by early
it is now classically divided into Type I, Type II and "Type III" (a
coined by Bove and Neumann to describe a combination of DCS and
gas embolism). Type I DCS includes cutaneous manifestations and minor
pain, or "pain only"; Type II includes severe symptoms related to the
and neurological systems. Type III is a combination of AGE and DCS with
Pain syndromes spot the pain in
the central skeleton. It is dull, difficult to characterize and
and is located in the shoulders, elbows and hands in divers. Compressed
air workers have more pain in their lower extremities.
It is caused by bubbles,
and extravascular with large gas stores in the fatty bone marrow. This
is a cause of dysbaric osteonecrosis.
Neurologic Syndromes are
sport divers and the spinal cord is the most commonly involved site.
include abdominal, low back, lower extremity pain, weakness and loss of
feeling and function. Cerebral involvement is much more common than
thought and may account for a portion of the "spinal cord" lesions.
nerves can also be involved causing numbness, limb pains and weakness.
- Recognition *Symptoms
appear 15 minutes
to 12 hours after surfacing*
- Blotchy rash
- Paralysis or weakness
- Coughing spasms
- Staggering or
- Tired feeling
- Pain, arms, legs or
- Numbness, tingling or
- Chest compression or
shortness of breath
- Immediate oxygen
breathing, continue even
if person improves
- Stabilize patient the
same way as for Air
- Urgent recompression
- Early recompression
treatment for all forms
of decompression sickness. There is a lightweight, portable
facility that would appear to be ideal for the liveaboard or dive
far from a fixed-base chamber. This is the 'SOS Hyperlite Stretcher'.
information can be obtained at http://www.hyperlite.co.uk/