Relation Between Right-to-Left Shunts and Spinal Cord Decompression Sickness in Divers.

Abstract : The role of right-to-left shunting (RLS) in spinal cord decompression sickness (DCS) remains uncertain and could differ according to the distribution of lesion in spinal cord with a higher risk of upper spinal cord involvement in divers presenting a large patent foramen ovale. The aims of this study were to assess the prevalence of RLS with transcranial doppler ultrasonography in 49 divers referred for spinal cord DCS and compare it with the prevalence of RLS in 49 diving controls, and to determine a potential relation between RLS and lesion site of spinal cord. The proportion of large RLS was greater in DCS divers than in healthy control divers (odds ratio, 3.6 [95 % CI, 1.3 to 9.5]; p = 0.017). Shunting was not associated with the increased incidence of cervical spinal cord DCS (OR, 1.1 [95 % CI, 0.3 to 3.9]; p = 0.9) while a significant relationship between large RLS and spinal cord DCS with thoracolumbar involvement was demonstrated (OR, 6.9 [95 % CI, 2.3 to 20.4]; p < 0.001). From the above results, we conclude that the risk of spinal cord DCS in divers with hemodynamically relevant RLS is higher than in divers without RLS, particularly in their lower localization.
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E. Gempp, J.-E. Blatteau, E. Stephant, P. Louge. Relation Between Right-to-Left Shunts and Spinal Cord Decompression Sickness in Divers.. International Journal of Sports Medicine, Thieme Publishing, 2008, epub ahead of print. ⟨10.1055/s-2008-1038844⟩. ⟨ssa-00322736⟩

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