Understanding scuba diving incidents
Duncan Tarry explains the pathologies associated with scuba diving and outlines aspects of appropriate medical management
Most dives are completed safely. If incidents do occur, however, serious injury may result. The nature of the pathology in scuba diving incidents relates to the range of effects diving can have on the body.
When scuba diving, a diver's body is subject to higher than normal ambient pressure. It is not the pressure level itself that is important in diving but the transition between two different pressures. The problems relate to two key factors: anatomical air spaces and changing gas solubility.
To understand the effects of pressure on anatomical air spaces you need a basic understanding of the relation between pressure and volume. When a diver enters the water, he is at the pressure of one atmosphere. This is the pressure exerted by the atmosphere. As the diver descends in the water, the ambient pressure acting on the diver increases, owing to the mass of the water above the