During sudden or too rapid decompression, gas is released within supersaturated tissues in the form of bubbles, the cause of decompression sickness. It is widely accepted that these bubbles originate in the tissue from preexisting gas micronuclei. Pretreatment with hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) has been hypothesized to shrink the gas micronuclei, thus reducing the number of emerging bubbles. The effectiveness of a new HBO pretreatment protocol on neurologic outcome was studied in rats. This protocol was found to carry the least danger of oxygen toxicity. Somatosensory evoked potentials (SSEPs) were chosen to serve as a measure of neurologic damage. SSEPs in rats given HBO pretreatment before a dive were compared with SSEPs from rats not given HBO pretreatment and SSEPs from non-dived rats. The incidence of abnormal SSEPs in the animals subjected to decompression without pretreatment (1,013 kPa for 32 min followed by decompression) was 78%. In the pretreatment group (HBO at 304 kPa for 20 min followed by exposure to 1,013 kPa for 33 min and decompression) this was significantly reduced to 44%. These results call for further study of the pretreatment protocol in higher animals.
- Gas bubbles
- Somatosensory evoked potentials
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physiology (medical)