Computation of decompression tables using continuous compartment half-lives

Egi S. M. , Gurmen N.

UNDERSEA & HYPERBARIC MEDICINE, vol.27, no.3, pp.143-153, 2000 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 27 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2000
  • Page Numbers: pp.143-153


There is no consensus on the number of compartments and the half-lives (T-1/2) used in the calculation of inert gas exchange and decompression sickness (DCS) boundary in existing dive tables and decompression computers. We propose the use of a continuous variable for the tissue half-lives, allowing the simulation of an infinite number of compartments and reducing the discrepancy between different algorithms to a single DCS boundary expression. Our computational method is based on the premise that M-values can be expressed in terms of T-1/2 and ambient pressure (D). We combined the surfaces defined by M(D,T-1/2) and tissue tension II(t,T-1/2) to plan decompression. The efficiency and applicability of the method is investigated with four different DCS boundaries. The first two utilize the M-value relations proposed by Buhlmann and Wienke to derive no-D limits for sea level. The third boundary is defined by a surface fitted to the empirical M-values of US Navy, Buhlmann tables, US Air Force, and our altitude diving data. This expression was used to design the decompression procedure for a multilevel dive at 11,429-ft altitude and was used in six man dives in the Kackar Mountains, Turkey. Although precordial bubbles were observed in two dives, there were no cases of DCS. The fourth DCS boundary is constructed with the addition of a constraint that forces calculated M-values to stay below the available M-values. This constraint aims the highest degree of "conservatism". As an application of the new boundary, the method is used to derive decompression stop diving schedules for 11,429-ft altitude. The concept of continuous tissue half-lives is applicable to different types of gas exchange and DCS boundary functions or to a combination of different models with a desired level of conservatism. It has proved to be a useful tool in planning decompression for undocumented modes of diving such as decompression stop diving or multilevel diving at altitude. The algorithm can easily be incorporated into dive computers.