Author(s): Branger AB, Lambertsen CJ, Eckmann DM
Cerebral gas embolism is a serious consequence of diving. It is associated with decompression sickness and is assumed to cause severe neurological dysfunction. A mathematical model previously developed to calculate embolism absorption time based on in vivo bubble geometry is used in which various conditions of hyperbaric therapy are considered. Effects of varying external pressure and inert gas concentrations in the breathing mixtures, according to US Navy and Royal Navy diving treatment tables, are predicted. Recompression alone is calculated to reduce absorption times of a 50-nl bubble by up to 98% over the untreated case. Lowering the inhaled inert gas concentration from 67.5% to 50% reduces absorption time by 37% at a given pressure. Bubbles formed after diving and decompression with He are calculated to absorb up to 73% faster than bubbles created after diving and decompression with air, regardless of the recompression gas breathed. This model is a useful alternative to impractical clinical trials in assessing which initial step in hyperbaric therapy is most effective in eliminating cerebral gas embolisms should they occur.