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PLoS One. 2015 Jun 25;10(6):e0130835. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0130835. eCollection 2015.

The Extended Oxygen Window Concept for Programming Saturation Decompressions Using Air and Nitrox.

Author information

1
National Centre for Hyperbaric Medicine, Institute of Maritime and Tropical Medicine, Medical University of Gdansk, Powstania Styczniowego, Gdynia, Poland.

Abstract

Saturation decompression is a physiological process of transition from one steady state, full saturation with inert gas at pressure, to another one: standard conditions at surface. It is defined by the borderline condition for time spent at a particular depth (pressure) and inert gas in the breathing mixture (nitrogen, helium). It is a delicate and long lasting process during which single milliliters of inert gas are eliminated every minute, and any disturbance can lead to the creation of gas bubbles leading to decompression sickness (DCS). Most operational procedures rely on experimentally found parameters describing a continuous slow decompression rate. In Poland, the system for programming of continuous decompression after saturation with compressed air and nitrox has been developed as based on the concept of the Extended Oxygen Window (EOW). EOW mainly depends on the physiology of the metabolic oxygen window--also called inherent unsaturation or partial pressure vacancy--but also on metabolism of carbon dioxide, the existence of water vapor, as well as tissue tension. Initially, ambient pressure can be reduced at a higher rate allowing the elimination of inert gas from faster compartments using the EOW concept, and maximum outflow of nitrogen. Then, keeping a driving force for long decompression not exceeding the EOW allows optimal elimination of nitrogen from the limiting compartment with half-time of 360 min. The model has been theoretically verified through its application for estimation of risk of decompression sickness in published systems of air and nitrox saturation decompressions, where DCS cases were observed. Clear dose-reaction relation exists, and this confirms that any supersaturation over the EOW creates a risk for DCS. Using the concept of the EOW, 76 man-decompressions were conducted after air and nitrox saturations in depth range between 18 and 45 meters with no single case of DCS. In summary, the EOW concept describes physiology of decompression after saturation with nitrogen-based breathing mixtures.

PMID:
26111113
PMCID:
PMC4482426
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0130835
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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