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Free Content Brain MRI Signal Abnormalities and Right-to-Left Shunting in Asymptomatic Military Divers

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Gempp E, Sbardella F, Stephant E, Constantin P, De Maistre S, Louge P, Blatteau J-E. Brain MRI signal abnormalities and right-to-left shunting in asymptomatic military divers. Aviat Space Environ Med 2010; 81:1008–12.

Introduction: We conducted a controlled study to assess the prevalence of brain MRI hyperintense signals and their correlation with right-to-left shunting (RLS) in military divers. Methods: We prospectively enrolled 32 asymptomatic military divers under 41 yr of age and 32 non-diving healthy subjects matched with respect to age and vascular disease risk factors. We examined both groups with a 3-Tesla brain MRI; RLS was detected using transcranial pulsed Doppler in divers only. Results: Hyperintense spots were observed in 43.7% of the divers and 21.8% of the control subjects. In particular, divers with significant shunting exhibited a higher prevalence of hyperintensities compared to those with slight or no RLS (75% vs. 25%, respectively). Linear trend analysis also revealed a positive correlation between focal white matter changes, determined using a validated visual rating scale and the RLS grade. Conclusion: Healthy military divers with a hemodynamically relevant RLS have an increased likelihood of cerebral hyperintense spots compared to age-matched normal subjects. The clinical relevance of these MRI signal abnormalities and their causal relationship with diving remain unclear.

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Keywords: decompression sickness; diving; magnetic resonance imaging; patent foramen ovale

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2010-11-01

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