A serious diving accident can occur in recreational diving even in countries where diving is not very popular due to the fact that diving conditions there are not as great as in some tropical diving locations. The estimated number of injured divers who need recompression treatment in European hyperbaric facilities varies between 10 and 100 per year depending on the number of divers in the population, number of dives performed annually, and number of hyperbaric centres in the country. In 5 years of retrospective observation in Poland (2003-2007) there were 51 cases of injured recreational divers recorded. They either dived locally or after returning home by air from a tropical diving resort. All of them were treated with recompression treatment in the National Centre for Hyperbaric Medicine in Gdynia which has capability to treat any patient with decompression illness using all currently available recompression schedules with any breathing mixtures including oxygen, nitrox, heliox or trimix. The time interval between surfacing and first occurrence of symptoms was significantly lower in the group of patients with neurological decompression sickness or arterial gas embolism (median 0.2 hours) than in the group of patients with other types of decompression sickness (median 2.0 hours). In both groups, there were different types of recompression tables used for initial treatment and different number of additional sessions of hyperbaric oxygenation (HBO) prescribed, but the final outcome was similar. Complete resolution of symptoms after initial recompression treatment was observed in 24 cases, and this number was increased to 37 cases after additional HBO sessions (from 1 to 20). In the final outcome, some residual symptoms were observed in 12 cases. In 2 cases initial diagnosis of decompression sickness type I was rejected after initial recompression treatment and careful re-evaluation of diving profiles, risk factors and reported symptoms.
Keywords: decompression illness, arterial gas embolism, recompression treatment, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, diving accident
Corresponding author: Dr Jacek Kot, MD, PhD,
National Centre for Hyperbaric Medicine Institute of Maritime and Tropical Medicine in Gdynia of the dical University of Gdańsk
Powstania Styczniowego 9 B, 81-519 Gdynia, Poland,
Tel.+48 58 6225163, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org