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The Monoplace Hyperbaric Chamber and Management of Decompression Illness

Dr RCT Li Asia Hyperbaric Center, Hong Kong HKMJ 2001;7:435-8

Summary: Decompression illness is not a common occupational disease. However, it can occur in recreational scuba divers, commercial divers, and other workers using compressed air. The pathogenesis of decompression illness relates to residual nitrogen and bubble formation. The formation of a bubble, however, is only the first of a sequence of events that, depending on their location, may have no symptoms or may result in conditions that range in severity from skin rash and pruritus, to convulsions and death.Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a very useful adjunctive treatment modality for a number of clinical conditions. Three cases of decompression illness are reported. Two patients presented with joint pain and skin signs, while one patient presented with joint pain and neurological signs and symptoms. The patients received emergency recompression therapy in a Hong Kong clinic, using a monoplace hyperbaric chamber. All three patients were treated successfully and no residual signs or symptoms were evident on review at 90 days’ post-treatment. With further education of medical professionals and the public, hyperbaric oxygen therapy could potentially become a departmental service offered at many Hong Kong hospitals.

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