Injury. 2004 Apr;35(4):359-70. doi: 10.1016/j.injury.2003.08.020.


Barotrauma is pressure-induced injury. The application of direct pressure to the body may cause trauma, including positive pressure from artificial ventilation. Trauma may also be caused by the effects of pressure changes on gas-containing body spaces, not in communication with the environment. This can include the external ear, the middle ear (and, indirectly, the inner ear), the para-nasal sinuses, the lungs, the gut, and abscess cavities (for example, in the teeth). Gas may penetrate tissues adjoining the affected space (such as the anterior cranial fossa, via the ethmoid sinus), or may embolise via the blood stream. The most severe expression of this is cerebral arterial gas embolism, which may present as a stroke. The management of these problems includes prevention, the use of pressure-equalizing techniques, vasoconstrictor drugs, surgery, and hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Barotrauma / complications
  • Barotrauma / diagnosis*
  • Ear / injuries
  • Embolism, Air / etiology
  • Humans
  • Lung Injury
  • Paranasal Sinuses / injuries