Comprehensive Physiology Wiley Online Library

Decompression and Decompression Sickness

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Abstract

The ever‐present desire of humankind to explore new limits introduced us to the syndrome of decompression sickness (DCS). This broad overview of DCS is aimed at its pathophysiology and basics of therapeutic strategies. After a brief explanation of decompression theory, historical vignettes will serve to inform the practical application of our increasing understanding of DCS risks. The pathophysiology, current practices, role of bubble monitoring, risk factors, and potential long‐term effects of DCS are also discussed.

The goal is to explain the current state of DCS understanding in the context of a robust observational and empirical history. However, DCS remains a syndrome consisting of a constellation of symptoms following a change in ambient pressure. Though great strides have been made, significant knowledge gaps remain. If the coming years advance the field even a fraction of what its predecessors accomplished, the health and safety of those who endeavor in the environment of changing pressures most certainly will be improved. Published 2014. Compr Physiol 4:1157‐1175, 2014.

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Richard T. Mahon, David P. Regis. Decompression and Decompression Sickness. Compr Physiol 2014, 4: 1157-1175. doi: 10.1002/cphy.c130039