Selected scientific publications on diving medicine and physiology.

Risk of decompression illness among 230 divers in relation to the presence and size of patent foramen ovale
Germonpre P, Balestra C.

BACKGROUND: The risk of developing decompression illness (DCI) in divers with a patent foramen ovale (PFO) has not been directly determined so far; neither has it been assessed in relation to the PFO's size. METHODS :In 230 scuba divers (age 39+/-8 years), contrast trans-oesophageal echocardiography (TEE) was performed for the detection and size grading (0-3) of PFO. Prior to TEE, the study individuals answered a detailed questionnaire about their health status and about their diving habits and accidents. For inclusion into the study, > or =200 dives and strict adherence to decompression tables were required. RESULTS: Sixty-three divers (27%) had a PFO. Overall, the absolute risk of suffering a DCI event was 2.5 per 10(4) dives. There were 18 divers (29%) with, and 10 divers (6%) without, PFO who had experienced > or =1 major DCI events P=0.016. In the group with PFO, the incidence per 10(4) dives of a major DCI, a DCI lasting longer than 24 h and of being treated in a decompression chamber amounted to 5.1 (median 0, interquartile range [IQR] 0-10.0), 1.9 (median 0, IQR 0-4.0) and 3.6 (median 0, IQR 0-9.8), respectively and was 4.8-12.9-fold higher than in the group without PFO (P<0.001). The risk of suffering a major DCI, of a DCI lasting longer than 24 h and of being treated by recompression increased with rising PFO size. CONCLUSION: The presence of a PFO is related to a low absolute risk of suffering five major DCI events per 10(4) dives, the odds of which is five times as high as in divers without PFO. The risk of suffering a major DCI parallels PFO size.

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2005 Apr 4
Evidence for increasing patency of the foramen ovale in divers
Germonpre P, Hastir F, Dendale P, Marroni A, Nguyen AF, Balestra C.

Using a standardized contrast-enhanced transesophageal echocardiographic technique, a group of divers was reexamined for the presence and size of patent foramen ovale (PFO) 7 years after their initial examinations. Unexpected but significant increases in the prevalence and size of PFO were found, suggesting a possible increasing risk for decompression sickness in these divers over time.

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2005 Mar 6
Pulpal and periodontal temperature rise during KTP laser use as a root planing complement in vitro
Nammour, Rocca JP, Keiani K, Balestra C, Snoeck T, Powell L, Reck JV.

The purpose of this study was to define the optimal irradiation conditions of a KTP laser during root planing treatment. METHODS: The surfaces of 60 single-root human teeth were scaled with conventional instruments before lasing. The pulpal temperature increase was measured by means of one thermocouple placed in the pulp chamber and a second one placed on the root surface at 1 mm from the irradiation site. The influence of variables of coloration by Acid Red 52 (photosensitizer), scanning speed, dentin thickness, and probe position was analyzed for a constant exposure time of 15 sec and 500 mw (spot size diameter, 0.5 mm). The pulpal temperature was below 3 degrees C for the adjustments.

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2016 Feb 14
Serum erythropoietin levels in healthy humans after a short period of normobaric and hyperbaric oxygen breathing: the "normobaric oxygen paradox"
Balestra C, Germonpré P, Poortmans JR, Marroni A.

Renal (peritubular) tissue hypoxia is a well-known physiological trigger for erythropoietin (EPO) production. We investigated the effect of rebound relative hypoxia after hyperoxia obtained under normo- and hyperbaric oxygen breathing conditions. A group of 16 healthy volunteers were investigated before and after a period of breathing 100% normobaric oxygen for 2 h and a period of breathing 100% oxygen at 2.5 ATA for 90 min (hyperbaric oxygen). Serum EPO concentration was measured using a radioimmunoassay at various time points during 24-36 h. A 60% increase (P < 0.001) in serum EPO was observed 36 h after normobaric oxygen. In contrast, a 53% decrease in serum EPO was observed at 24 h after hyperbaric oxygen. Those changes were not related to the circadian rhythm of serum EPO of the subjects. These results indicate that a sudden and sustained decrease in tissue oxygen tension, even above hypoxia thresholds (e.g., after a period of normobaric oxygen breathing), may act as a trigger for EPO serum level. This EPO trigger, the "normobaric oxygen paradox," does not appear to be present after hyperbaric oxygen breathing.

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2007 Nov 30
Effect of varying deep stop times and shallow stop times on precordial bubbles after dives to 25 msw (82 fsw)
Bennett PB1, Marroni A, Cronje FJ, Cali-Corleo R, Germonpre P, Pieri M, Bonuccelli C, Leonardi MG, Balestra C.

In our previous research, a deep 5-min stop at 15 msw (50 fsw), in addition to the typical 3-5 min shallow stop, significantly reduced precordial Doppler detectable bubbles (PDDB) and "fast" tissue compartment gas tensions during decompression from a 25 msw (82 fsw) dive; the optimal ascent rate was 10 msw (30 fsw/min). Since publication of these results, several recreational diving agencies have recommended empirical stop times shorter than the 5 min stops that we used, stops of as little as 1 min (deep) and 2 min (shallow). In our present study, we clarified the optimal time for stops by measuring PDDB with several combinations of deep and shallow stop times following single and repetitive open-water dives to 25 msw (82 fsw) for 25 mins and 20 minutes respectively; ascent rate was 10 msw/min (33 fsw). Among 15 profiles, stop time ranged from 1 to 10 min for both the deep stops (15 msw/50 fsw) and the shallow stops (6 msw/20 fsw). Dives with 2 1/2 min deep stops yielded the lowest PDDB scores--shorter or longer deep stops were less effective in reducing PDDB. The results confirm that a deep stop of 1 min is too short--it produced the highest PDDB scores of all the dives. We also evaluated shallow stop times of 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1 min while keeping a fixed time of 2.5 min for the deep stop; increased times up to 10 min at the shallow stop did not further reduce PDDB. While our findings cannot be extrapolated beyond these dive profiles without further study, we recommend a deep stop of at least 2 1/2 mins at 15 msw (50 fsw) in addition to the customary 6 msw (20 fsw) for 3-5 mins for 25 meter dives of 20 to 25 minutes to reduce PDDB.

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