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Clin Nucl Med. 2001 Apr;26(4):320-4.

Radionuclide lung imaging in respiratory decompression sickness: potential role in the diagnosis and evaluation of hyperbaric therapy.

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Department of Radiology, Memorial Hermann Hospital, University of Texas-Houston Medical School, 77030, USA.


Of the more than 3.5 million trained divers in the United States, many will experience various illnesses specific to divers. Most of these illnesses are related to the changes in absolute pressure that divers experience while diving. During and after ascent, a diver is at risk for decompression sickness and pulmonary barotrauma. A very rare casualty is pulmonary decompression sickness from immersion. This is a literature review and case report of a young woman with acute respiratory decompression sickness who had defects on perfusion lung imaging after a diving accident and after hyperbaric oxygen therapy. However, the perfusion defects reverted to normal in less than 24 hours. Possible explanations for the changes in the appearances of the scans are offered and discussed. This case report shows the potential utility of lung scanning in the diagnostic examination of these patients and the evaluation of the adequacy of treatment with hyperbaric oxygen therapy. A greater use of ventilation-perfusion lung scans in the treatment of such patients may establish its role more definitely.

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