High-pressure neurological syndrome (HPNS)

Acta Neurol Scand. 1994 Jul;90(1):45-50. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0404.1994.tb02678.x.


High-pressure neurological syndrome (HPNS) is a condition encountered in diving beyond a depth of 100 m. Manifestations include headache, tremor, myoclonus, neuropsychiatric disturbances and EEG changes. Convulsions are seen only in experimental animals. Most of the changes are reversible on surfacing but some such as memory disturbances may linger on for long periods. Excessive atmospheric pressure is the most important factor in the pathogenesis of HPNS. Neurotransmitter changes occur of which serotonin appears to be a more likely mediator because of the resemblance of HPNS to serotonin syndrome. Anesthetics and anticonvulsants have been used in experimental animals but are unsuitable for use in human divers. Breathing gas mixtures such as heliox have enabled the extension of depth of diving without HPNS. Use of 5-HT1A receptor antagonists may provide an interesting approach to prevention of HPNS.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • High Pressure Neurological Syndrome* / diagnosis
  • High Pressure Neurological Syndrome* / etiology
  • High Pressure Neurological Syndrome* / physiopathology
  • High Pressure Neurological Syndrome* / therapy
  • Humans