Cases from the Aerospace Medicine Resident's Teaching File: unsuspected pulmonary barotrauma.
- W P Butler
- Aviation, space, and environmental medicine
A 29-year-old man was brought to an emergency department by the United States Coast Guard with chief complaints of severe abdominal pain, right leg paresthesia and weakness following four deep air dives. Physical examination before recompression treatment was remarkable for diffuse abdominal tenderness and right leg weakness. The patient was diagnosed in the emergency room with type II decompression sickness (DCS) and underwent standard recompression therapy. He experienced complete resolution of weakness after hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) therapy, but his abdominal pain was persistent. Further investigation led to the diagnosis of acute appendicitis with perforation. The patient underwent appendectomy and intravenous antibiotic therapy and was discharged to his home on hospital day five without complications. This case reinforces the importance of careful clinical assessment of divers and illustrates the potentially wide differential diagnosis of DCS. This is the first reported case of recompression treatment of a diver with acute appendicitis and type II DCS.