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Neurological Disorders After Repetitive Breath-Hold Diving

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Gempp E, Blatteau J-E. Neurological disorders after repetitive breath-hold diving. Aviat Space Environ Med 2006; 77:971–973.

We report a case of transient neurological disorder compatible with cerebral decompression illness in a breath-hold diver. A large right-to-left shunt was later detected with contrast transcranial Doppler ultrasound. While the mechanism of brain damage is unclear, this observation highlights the need for breath-hold divers to avoid excessive nitrogen loading and to refrain from forceful Valsalva maneuvers that may contribute to the opening of a patent foramen ovale and lead to paradoxical cerebral embolism. Because decompression illness is a possibility, anyone who experiences unusual symptoms after breath-hold diving should seek immediate medical attention.

Keywords: arterial gas embolism; breath-hold diving; decompression sickness; patent foramen ovale; right-to-left shunt

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2006

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