Relation between interatrial shunts and decompression sickness in divers

Lancet. 1989 Dec 2;2(8675):1302-6. doi: 10.1016/s0140-6736(89)91911-9.


The prevalence of right-to-left interatrial shunts was determined by contrast echocardiography in a blind comparison of 61 divers who had had decompression sickness, divided into four predetermined clinical subgroups, and a control group of 63 who had not. The prevalence of shunt was 15/63 in the controls and did not differ significantly in 24 divers with onset of neurological symptoms more than 30 minutes after surfacing (4/24) or 6 with joint pain only (1/6). In divers who had neurological symptoms within 30 minutes of surfacing the prevalence of shunt was 19/29, significantly higher. Rashes soon after surfacing were related to shunts but late rashes were not.

MeSH terms

  • Decompression Sickness / complications*
  • Echocardiography
  • Embolism, Air / complications
  • Female
  • Heart Septal Defects, Atrial / complications*
  • Heart Septal Defects, Atrial / diagnosis
  • Heart Septal Defects, Atrial / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Embolism and Thrombosis / complications
  • Male
  • Neurologic Examination
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Time Factors