Lynchburg Journal of Medical Science

Lynchburg Journal of Medical Science


wilderness medicine, dive medicine


Nancy Reid


Decompression sickness is a rare but potentially deadly complication of breathing gas at depth while scuba diving. The definitive treatment for decompression sickness is recompression while breathing pure oxygen to allow for bubble compression and off-gassing. Commercial and military divers will often take a deck recompression chamber with them wherever they are diving, but recreational and technical divers often travel to locations where access to a recompression chamber is limited. In-water recompression has been suggested as an alternative to evacuation to a recompression chamber. 91 abstracts and papers were reviewed and 48 were found to be directly related and therefore included in this review of the literature evaluating decompression sickness and the risks and benefits of performing in-water recompression. Despite widespread concerns from the medical community, in-water recompression has a place in the treatment of decompression sickness, particularly in remote or hard to reach locations where a chamber may be many hours evacuation time away.


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