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Int J Crit Illn Inj Sci. 2011 Jan;1(1):73-8. doi: 10.4103/2229-5151.79286.

Acute ischemic colitis secondary to air embolism after diving.

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Largo Medical Center, Department of General Surgery, Largo Medical Center General Surgery Residency Program, Largo Medical Center- Indian Rocks Campus, 2025 Indian Rocks Road, Largo, FL 33774, USA.


Ischemic colitis (IC) secondary to air embolism from decompression sickness or barotrauma during diving is an extremely rare condition. After extensive review of the available literature, we found that there has been only one reported case of IC secondary to air embolism from diving. Although air embolization from diving and the various medical complications that follow have been well documented, the clinical manifestation of IC from an air embolism during diving is very rare and thus far unstudied. Common symptoms of IC include abdominal pain, bloody or non-bloody diarrhea or nausea or vomiting or any combination. Emergency physicians and Critical Care specialists should consider IC as a potential diagnosis for a patient with the above-mentioned symptoms and a history of recent diving. We report a case of IC from air embolism after a routine dive to 75 feet below sea level in a 53-year-old White female who presented to a community Emergency Department complaining of a 2-day history of diffuse abdominal pain and nausea. She was diagnosed by colonoscopy with biopsies and treated conservatively with antibiotics, bowel rest, and a slow advancement in diet.


Air embolism; barotrauma; decompression sickness; diving; ischemic colitis; scuba diving

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