Vascular Function Recovery Following Saturation Diving

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Imbert J., Egi S., Balestra C.

MEDICINA-LITHUANIA, vol.58, no.10, 2022 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 58 Issue: 10
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.3390/medicina58101476
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, EMBASE, MEDLINE, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Keywords: flow-mediated dilation, FMD, decompression, arterial stiffness, endothelial dysfunction, underwater, hyperbaric, commercial diver, off-shore energy operation, human, FLOW-MEDIATED DILATATION, VENOUS GAS EMBOLI, NEUTROPHIL ACTIVATION, MICROPARTICLE PRODUCTION, SHEAR-STRESS, DECOMPRESSION, DIVE, BUBBLES, ECHOCARDIOGRAPHY, ULTRASOUND
  • Galatasaray University Affiliated: Yes


Background and Objectives: Saturation diving is a technique used in commercial diving. Decompression sickness (DCS) was the main concern of saturation safety, but procedures have evolved over the last 50 years and DCS has become a rare event. New needs have evolved to evaluate the diving and decompression stress to improve the flexibility of the operations (minimum interval between dives, optimal oxygen levels, etc.). We monitored this stress in saturation divers during actual operations. Materials and Methods: The monitoring included the detection of vascular gas emboli (VGE) and the changes in the vascular function measured by flow mediated dilatation (FMD) after final decompression to surface. Monitoring was performed onboard a diving support vessel operating in the North Sea at typical storage depths of 120 and 136 msw. A total of 49 divers signed an informed consent form and participated to the study. Data were collected on divers at surface, before the saturation and during the 9 h following the end of the final decompression. Results: VGE were detected in three divers at very low levels (insignificant), confirming the improvements achieved on saturation decompression procedures. As expected, the FMD showed an impairment of vascular function immediately at the end of the saturation in all divers but the divers fully recovered from these vascular changes in the next 9 following hours, regardless of the initial decompression starting depth. Conclusion: These changes suggest an oxidative/inflammatory dimension to the diving/decompression stress during saturation that will require further monitoring investigations even if the vascular impairement is found to recover fast.