MRI findings and clinical outcome in 45 divers with spinal cord decompression sickness.

Abstract : BACKGROUND: Decompression sickness (DCS) affecting the spinal cord is the most dangerous form of diving-related injury with potential sequelae. This study was conducted to evaluate the relationship between spinal cord lesions on MRI and clinical findings in divers with spinal DCS. METHODS: We studied 45 cases of DCS that were referred to our hyperbaric facility with clinical evidence of spinal involvement during the period 2002-2007. The study included only patients who underwent MRI within 10 d of injury. The severity of spinal DCS for each patient was rated numerically for both the acute event and 1 mo later. The presence or absence of back pain was also noted. RESULTS: Spinal cord lesions were significantly more frequent in divers with severe DCS, and did not occur in any diver who experienced a favorable outcome (sensitivity = 67%, specificity = 100%, negative predictive value = 77%, positive predictive value = 100%). The presence of vertebral degenerative changes that impinged on the spinal cord was strongly associated with MRI abnormalities, but not with a negative outcome. Acute back pain was associated with hyperintense lesions and persistence of neurological sequelae [OR = 14 (95% CI, 3.1 to 63.5)]. CONCLUSION: The results show that MRI could be helpful in predicting clinical outcome in divers with spinal cord DCS. The presence of medullary compressive factors and vertebral back pain after surfacing indicate increased likelihood of severe myelopathy with incomplete recovery.
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  • PUBMED : 19070307

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Emmanuel Gempp, Jean-Eric Blatteau, Eric Stephant, Jean-Michel Pontier, Pascal Constantin, et al.. MRI findings and clinical outcome in 45 divers with spinal cord decompression sickness.. Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine, Aerospace Medical Association, 2008, 79 (12), pp.1112-6. ⟨ssa-00355981⟩

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