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Investigations into the causes of the bends (Decompression Illness). Diving Diseases Research Centre, Plymouth

 At present there is no complete explanation of what causes the bends. Measurement of changes in COP during diving by the Osmosis Unit demonstrated that intercompartmental fluid shifts result from changes in external pressure. Our studies suggest that blood volume increases with increasing barometric pressure. Extra fluid is eliminated in the kidneys. During decompression, fluid from the blood moves back into the interstitium reducing blood volume and increasing its concentration. The longer and deeper the dive the greater the increase in concentration and the lower the final circulating blood volume. A decreased blood volume gives less fluid space in which the increased gas concentrations can be dissolved. This in turn increases the likelihood of the development of micro-bubbles and the bends.  The development of rehydration drinks that can be consumed underwater during decompression is being considered.

 

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Last modified: 07/05/06