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Undersea Hyperb Med. 2013 Jul-Aug;40(4):345-50.

Incidence of DCS and oxygen toxicity in chamber attendants: a 28-year experience.

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  • 1Hyperbaric Medicine Center, University of California San Diego, San Diego, California, USA.


Decompression sickness (DCS) and central nervous system oxygen toxicity are inherent risks for "inside" attendants (IAs) of hyperbaric chambers. At the Hyperbaric Medicine Center at the University of California San Diego (UCSD), protocols have been developed for decompressing IAs. Protocol 1: For a total bottom time (TBT) of less than 80 minutes at 2.4 atmospheres absolute (atm abs) or shallower, the U.S. Navy (1955) no-decompression tables were utilized. Protocol 2: For a TBT between 80 and 119 minutes IAs breathed oxygen for 15 minutes prior to initiation of ascent. Protocol 3: For a TBT between 120-139 minutes IAs breathed oxygen for 30 minutes prior to ascent. These protocols have been utilized for approximately 28 years and have produced zero cases of DCS and central nervous system oxygen toxicity. These results, based upon more than 24,000 exposures, have an upper limit of risk of DCS and oxygen toxicity of 0.02806 (95% CI) using UCSD IA decompression Protocol 1, 0.00021 for Protocol 2, and 0.00549 for Protocol 3. We conclude that the utilization of this methodology may be useful at other sea-level multiplace chambers.

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