Decompression sickness with incidental pulmonary cyst

Undersea Hyperb Med. 2022 Third Quarter;49(3):289-293.


Decompression sickness (DCS) is a known complication of scuba diving. DCS occurs when bubbles are formed as pressure is reduced during and after ascent from a dive, following inert gas uptake during the dive. The bubbles cause inflammation and hypoxia. The definitive treatment for decompression sickness is hyperbaric oxygen therapy. We present a case of a healthy 16-year-old male who presented with decompression sickness and an incidental pulmonary cyst discovered by chest CT, likely congenital. The patient was successfully treated with U.S. Navy Treatment Table 6 (TT6) for his decompression sickness, but he continued to have chest pain, requiring hospitalization and consultation with pediatric pulmonology and cardiothoracic surgery from the cyst. Three years later he complained of chest pain with changes in altitude. Chest CT showed persistence of this cyst, and additional cysts. Case conference with pulmonologists and chest radiologist could not offer a definite etiology without lung biopsy, felt to not be indicated. We believe that the changes in pressure/volumes during the dives and TT6 exacerbated his pulmonary cyst.

Keywords: case report; decompression sickness; lung; pulmonary cyst.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Chest Pain / therapy
  • Child
  • Cysts* / complications
  • Cysts* / diagnostic imaging
  • Decompression
  • Decompression Sickness* / complications
  • Decompression Sickness* / diagnostic imaging
  • Diving* / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Hyperbaric Oxygenation*
  • Male