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Delayed Treatment of Decompression Sickness with Short, No-Air-Break Tables: Review of 140 Cases

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Cianci P, Slade Jr JB. Delayed treatment of decompression sickness with short, no-air-break tables: review of 140 cases. Aviat Space Environ Med 2006; 77:1003–1008.

Introduction: Most cases of decompression sickness (DCS) in the U.S. are treated with hyperbaric oxygen using U.S. Navy Treatment Tables 5 and 6, although detailed analysis shows that those tables were based on limited data. We reviewed the development of these protocols and offer an alternative treatment table more suitable for monoplace chambers that has proven effective in the treatment of DCS in patients presenting to our facility. Methods: We reviewed the outcomes for 140 cases of DCS in civilian divers treated with the shorter tables at our facility from January 1983 through December 2002. Results: Onset of symptoms averaged 9.3 h after surfacing. At presentation, 44% of the patients demonstrated mental aberration. The average delay from onset of symptoms to treatment was 93.5 h; median delay was 48 h. Complete recovery in the total group of 140 patients was 87%. When 30 patients with low probability of DCS were excluded, the recovery rate was 98%. All patients with cerebral symptoms recovered. Patients with the highest severity scores showed a high rate of complete recovery (97.5%). Discussion: Short oxygen treatment tables as originally described by Hart are effective in the treatment of DCS, even with long delays to definitive recompression that often occur among civilian divers presenting to a major Divers Alert Network referral center.
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Keywords: decompression sickness; short oxygen treatment tables

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2006-10-01

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