DIAGNOSING DECOMPRESSION ILLNESS
Scuba Diver|Issue 05 - 2020(119)
Incident Insight
Camilo Saraiva

A 49-year-old female certified recreational scuba diver called the Divers Alert Network Emergency Hotline from George Town, Grand Cayman, around noon on a February day. She was experiencing a sudden, intense and sharp abdominal and back pain that had started 12 hours after her last dive, which had been on the previous day. That dive had been the third of a single-day series of mild, recreational repetitive scuba dives on air with no mandatory decompression stops. She had proper safety stops with the first two dives and maintained adequate surface intervals between all three dives.

Her dives had been uneventful until the last one, when she ran out of air after being at 10 metres (32 feet) for approximately 30 minutes. She had not been paying close attention to her air gauge and had to perform an emergency controlled ascent to the surface. Her buddy was too far away, so she ascended without any assistance. The diver likely started the dive with a half-empty cylinder by mistake.

She denied having any other symptoms, including skin discolouration, limb or joint pain, or any perceivable neurological deficit. She had no relevant past medical history, hypertension or other cardiological or vascular diseases.

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