Differentiating between Neurological Decompression Sickness & Multiple Sclerosis in Military Divers

Research Paper Title

Multiple sclerosis presenting as neurological decompression sickness in a U.S. navy diver.

Abstract

A case of clinically definite multiple sclerosis presenting as neurological decompression sickness is presented.

A 23-yr-old U.S. Navy diver experienced onset of hypesthesia of the left upper trunk approximately 19 h after making two SCUBA dives.

She did not seek medical attention until three weeks later, at which time she was diagnosed with possible neurological decompression sickness.

She was treated with hyperbaric oxygen, but demonstrated no improvement. Further evaluation led to the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis.

This case underscores the potential similarity in neurological presentation between multiple sclerosis and decompression sickness.

The differential diagnosis of neurological decompression sickness, particularly in atypical cases, should include multiple sclerosis. The appropriateness of medically clearing multiple sclerosis patients for diving is discussed.

Reference

Jan, M.H. & Jankosky, C.J. (2003) Multiple sclerosis presenting as neurological decompression sickness in a U.S. navy diver. Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine. 74(2), pp.184-6.

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