Medical Forum
This not an emergency service, in case of a diving incident, please contact your local Coastguard, nearest recompression chamber or emergency services.
New Question
Specialist Forums > Medical Forum
Posted : May 24, 2007
Hi Dr Firth
I had a severe spinal bend in August last year which was treated with several sessions in a hyperbaric chamber. We'd done a weekend's diving in Oban, the dives were easy, relatively shallow and with good profiles. I was not ill, cold, stressed, dehydrated, fatigued or hung over, I'm fit, thin, and don't smoke. I am an experienced diver and at no time did I have a sudden ascent. After treatment I had an echocardiogram with bubble study which showed the probability of a PFO. I had surgery to repair this last week, however during the procedure the surgeon was unable to detect the PFO so could not close it. I've been told I will have another bubble study in a few weeks. I am confused and frustrated - if I have a PFO, why could it not be detected, and if the first test was flawed, why did I get such a bad bend from a very innocuous (the chamber doctors words) dive profile? I was really hoping to get back into the water by the end of the year, can you shed any light on this matter?
Thanks for your advice

Posted : May 24, 2007
Hello and thanks for the query. This is an uncommon situation - there are several types of abnormal communication between the chambers of the heart, of which PFO is only one, albeit the most common. These others, such as atrial septal defects (ASD), may give a positive result on the bubble check but be difficult to detect at operation if they are small. You can also get right to left shunting from pulmonary arteriovenous malformations, ie. abnormal tangles of blood vessels in the lungs. This might explain the bend, however this would not give you a positive bubble study. A further bubble study is probably the next best step and I'd be interested to hear what it shows.
Kind regards, Dr O
Answer provided by Dr Oliver Firth
Dr Ollie Firth
The views expressed by Dr Firth & Dr Jules are their own and the publishers accept no liability for the advice and views expressed by Dr Firth , Dr Jules, or other users, which are provided as a general service to divers. Users are warned that secondary posts are the views of other users and may not be medically correct.
About us | Disclaimer & terms of use | Contact us | Site News | Suggestions | Link to us | Advertising Info
© 2006 Personal Print Ltd