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Undersea Hyperb Med. 2002 Winter;29(4):247-59.

The incidence of venous gas emboli in recreational diving.

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Hyperbaric Center, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA, USA.


From 1989-91, the Divers Alert Network monitored recreational divers for Doppler-detected venous gas emboli (VGE) and depth-time profiles following multi-day, repetitive, multi-level exposures. A Spencer score >0 occurred in 61 of 67 subjects (91%) and 205 of 281 dives (73%). No subject developed decompression sickness (DCS) on monitored days although 102 dives (36.3%) scored at Spencer Grades 2 or 3 (High Bubble Grade, HBG). We recorded the depth-time profiles with Suunto dive computers and estimated exposure severity with a probabilistic decompression algorithm. The HBG incidence increased 53% over the range of exposure severity (p < 0.001) in the divers, was approximately 20% higher for repetitive dives than for first dives, and decreased approximately 25% over the 6-8 days of multi-day diving (p < 0.001) suggesting a phenomenon similar to DCS adaptation. The observed HBG incidence was approximately 20% higher for males than females. Older male divers had a 25% increase in observed incidence of HBG while older female divers showed a 55% increase when compared to their younger counterparts.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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