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Undersea Hyperb Med. 2004 Winter;31(4):431-44.

Experimental trials to assess the risks of decompression sickness in flying after diving.

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Divers Alert Network, Department of Anesthesiology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, USA.


We conducted experimental trials of flying after diving using profiles near the no-decompression exposure limits for recreational diving. The objective was to determine the dependence of DCS occurrence during or after flight on the length of the preflight surface intervals (PFSI). One to three dives were conducted during a single day with dry, resting subjects in a hyperbaric chamber at depths of 40, 60, or 100 fsw (224, 286, 408 kPa). The dives were followed by PFSI of 3 to 17 hrs and a four-hour altitude exposure at 8,000 ft (75 kPa), the maximum permitted cabin altitude for pressurized commercial aircraft. Forty DCS incidents occurred during or after flight in 802 exposures of 495 subjects. The DCS incidence decreased as PFSI increased, and repetitive dives generally required longer PFSI to achieve low incidence than did single dives (p = 0.0159). No DCS occurred in 52 trials of a 17 hr PFSI, the longest PFSI tested. The results provide empirical information for formulating guidelines for flying in commercial aircraft after recreational diving.

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