PMID: 12182217Aug 17, 2002

The effect of simulated weightlessness on hypobaric decompression sickness

Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine
Ulf I BalldinJ T Webb


A discrepancy exists between the incidence of ground-based decompression sickness (DCS) during simulated extravehicular activity (EVA) at hypobaric space suit pressure (20-40%) and crewmember reports during actual EVA (zero reports). This could be due to the effect of gravity during ground-based DCS studies. At EVA suit pressures of 29.6 kPa (4.3 psia), there is no difference in the incidence of hypobaric DCS between a control group and group exposed to simulated weightlessness (supine body position). Male subjects were exposed to a hypobaric pressure of 29.6 kPa (4.3 psi) for up to 4 h. The control group (n = 26) pre-oxygenated for 60 min (first 10 min exercising) before hypobaric exposure and walking around in the altitude chamber. The test group (n = 39) remained supine for a 3 h prior to and during the 60-min pre-oxygenation (also including exercise) and at hypobaric pressure. DCS symptoms and venous gas emboli (VGE) at hypobaric pressure were registered. DCS occurred in 42% in the control and in 44% in simulated weightlessness group (n.s.). The mean time for DCS to develop was 112 min (SD +/- 61) and 123 min (+/- 67), respectively. VGE occurred in 81% of the control group subjects and in 51% of the simulated weightlessness...Continue Reading

Related Concepts

Medicine, Space
Upper Arm
Decompression Sickness
Cardiopulmonary Exercise Test
Oxygen Therapy Care
Supine Position
Microgravity Simulation

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