Vol 63, No 3 (2012)
Original article
Published online: 2012-11-06

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Decompression sickness in urban divers in France

Jacques Bessereau, Nicolas Genotelle, Pierre-Marie Brun, Jérôme Aboab, Marion Antona, Hichem Chenaitia, Anne Huon, Djillali Annane
IMH 2012;63(3):170-173.


Decompression sickness (DCS) can occur in SCUBA divers. DCS is treated with oxygen, preferably given under hyperbaric conditions. Although Paris (France) is located at a distance from the sea or lakes, some injured divers require hyperbaric oxygen treatment (HBOT) in this city, sometimes within a specific time frame. Thus, this study investigated the epidemiology and outcomes of such urban divers.
Aim: We conducted an observational study of SCUBA divers admitted to the Raymond Poincaré Hyperbaric centre near Paris from 1993 to 2003.
Materials and methods: We prospectively enrolled 69 consecutive SCUBA divers presenting DCS. Common risk factors were reported, especially aeroplane flight and training dives. Symptoms are very often atypical (63%) and onset time of symptoms is often too long (59% after 2 h) due to denial of symptoms. First aid is generally inadequate, with only 23% of victims receiving oxygen, fluid loading and aspirin together. HBOT was given for 42 (61%) patients although their examination results were considered as normal.
Conclusions: Diving pits and diving travel agencies should do more to warn divers of the need for treatment with normobaric oxygen and hydration pending HBOT. Moreover, hyperbaric physicians should better clarify HBOT indications for both symptoms of late onset and atypical presentations.

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