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Review
, 69 (4), 403-9

Towards New Paradigms for the Treatment of Hypobaric Decompression Sickness

Affiliations
  • PMID: 9561289
Review

Towards New Paradigms for the Treatment of Hypobaric Decompression Sickness

T S Dart et al. Aviat Space Environ Med.

Abstract

Altitude induced (hypobaric) decompression sickness (DCS) has long been treated with ground level oxygen and U.S. Navy Treatment Tables 5 and 6. These treatment tables originate from surface excursion diving and, when implemented, require significant resource allocation. Although they are effective treatment regimens, these tables were not developed for treating hypobaric DCS which has an etiology similar to saturation diving DCS. In this review, different treatment options for hypobaric DCS are presented. These options include more aggressive use of ground level oxygen and treatment tables using a maximum pressure of 2 atmospheres (ATA). Specific attention is given to USAF Table VIII, an experimental hypobaric DCS treatment-table, and space suit overpressurization treatment. This paradigm shift for DCS treatment is based on a projected increase in hypobaric DCS treatment from exposure to low pressure during several operational conditions: cruise flight in the next generation aircraft (e.g., F-22); high altitude, unpressurized flight by special operations forces; and the extraordinary amount of extravehicular activity (EVA) required to construct the international space station. Anticipating the need to treat DCS encountered during these and other activities, it is proposed that 2 ATA or less hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) treatment conjoined with new collapsible chamber technology can be used to address these issues in a safe and cost effective fashion.

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