Hyperbaric chamber attendant safety I: Doppler analysis of decompression stress in multiplace chamber attendants.

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Hyperbaric chamber attendant safety I: Doppler analysis of decompression stress in multiplace chamber attendants.

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Title: Hyperbaric chamber attendant safety I: Doppler analysis of decompression stress in multiplace chamber attendants.
Author: Cooper, PD; Van den Broek, C; Smart, DR; Nishi, RY; Eastman, D
Abstract: Introduction: Incidences of decompression sickness of 0.76% have been reported in hyperbaric attendants exposed to routine 243 kPa treatment tables. Occupational health risks of this magnitude are not acceptable in routine clinical practice. Significant variations in procedures are therefore found between institutions in an attempt to enhance staff safety. In extreme cases, the use of multiplace chambers has been abandoned. Doppler ultrasound provides an objective tool to assess the sub-clinical decompression stress associated with any particular exposure. Aims: To assess the decompression stress imposed upon staff exposed to our routine 243 kPa table and to elucidate demographic details within the attendant population that impact upon that stress. Methods: Design: prospective observational cohort study. Profile: 243 kPa for 90 min with a 20 min decompression on oxygen. Subjects: 28 nursing and medical personnel routinely undertaking patient care under hyperbaric conditions. Procedure: Doppler assessment at 20 min intervals for up to 120 min post-exposure. Scoring: aural grading of intravascular bubbles using the Kisman-Masurel (K-M) scoring system; 163 exposures were scrutinized in this manner. Results: 68% of exposures resulted in 'low' (K-M Grades 0-1), 22% in 'intermediate' (Grade II) and 10% in 'high' subclinical decompression stress (Grades III-IV). Female gender and increasing age, weight and exposure frequency showed trends towards higher bubble grades. There were no cases of clinical decompression sickness. Conclusions: Our standard 243 kPa table conforms to DCIEM definitions of 'acceptable' decompression stress (Grade II or fewer bubbles in greater than or equal to 50% of the subjects). Significant inter- and intra-individual variability was evident even within this one, tightly controlled dive profile.
Description: The Journal of the South Pacific Underwater Medicine Society (Incorporated in Victoria) A0020660B and the European Underwater and Baromedical Society
URI: http://archive.rubicon-foundation.org/9818
Date: 2009

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