Cerebral effects of hyperbaric oxygen breathing: a CBF SPECT study on professional divers

Eur J Neurol. 2002 Jul;9(4):419-21. doi: 10.1046/j.1468-1331.2002.00436.x.


We investigated the effects on cerebral blood flow (CBF) of pure oxygen breathing exposure during dives in a group of professional divers, in both the normobaric (NBO) and the hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) breathing conditions. Using single photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT) and Tc-99m hexamethylpropylenamine oxime (HM-PAO), we studied 10 young divers and six normal volunteers. Divers were studied by SPECT in the NBO and HBO conditions, in two different sessions. The HBO state was obtained in a hyperbaric chamber at 2.8 ATA for 15 min. By ANOVA, we did not observe any significant difference in CBF distribution between controls and divers in both NBO and HBO conditions. By individual analysis, divers showed a decreased CBF in a total of 33 regions of interest (ROIs) during NBO and 46 ROIs during HBO with respect to control values. In particular, two divers showed a remarkable increase in the number of hypoperfused ROIs during HBO (+7 and +5 ROIs, respectively). Pure oxygen breathing exposure in young divers is associated with a patchy distribution of brain areas of hypoperfusion. This phenomenon is more pronounced in the HBO state than in the NBO state. Further studies on CBF are needed to help identify divers potentially prone to harmful oxygen effects.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / physiology
  • Diving / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Hyperbaric Oxygenation*
  • Male
  • Oxygen / administration & dosage*
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon*


  • Oxygen