Physiological Function in Special Environments

pp 95-108

On the Use of a Bubble Formation Model to Calculate Nitrogen and Helium Diving Tables

  • D. E. Yount
  • , D. C. Hoffman

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Decompression sickness is caused by a reduction in ambient pressure which results in supersaturation and the formation of gas bubbles in blood or tissue. This well-known disease syndrome, often called “the bends,” is associated with such modern-day activities as deep-sea diving, working in pressurized tunnels and caissons, flying at high altitudes in unpressurized aircraft, and flying EVA excursions from spacecraft. A striking feature is that almost any body part, organ, or fluid can be affected, including skin, muscle, brain and nervous tissue, the vitreous humor of the eye, tendon sheath, and bone. Medical signs and symptoms range from itching and mild tingling sensations to crippling bone necrosis, permanent paralysis, and death.