To use all functions of this page, please activate cookies in your browser.
With an accout for my.bionity.com you can always see everything at a glance – and you can configure your own website and individual newsletter.
- My watch list
- My saved searches
- My saved topics
- My newsletter
Barotrauma is physical damage to body tissues caused by a difference in pressure between an air space inside or beside the body and the surrounding gas or liquid.
Barotrauma typically occurs to air spaces within a body when that body moves to or from a higher pressure environment, such as when a SCUBA diver, a free-diving diver or an airplane passenger ascends or descends. Boyle's law defines the relationship between the volume of the air space and the ambient pressure.
Damage occurs in the tissues around the body's air spaces because gases are compressible and the tissues are not. During increases in ambient pressure, the internal air space provides the surrounding tissues with little support to resist the higher external pressure. During decreases in ambient pressure, the higher pressure of the gas inside the air spaces causes damage to the surrounding tissues if that gas becomes trapped.
Additional recommended knowledge
Types of injury
Examples of organs or tissues easily damaged by barotrauma due to diving are:
The term 'squeeze' describes the phenomenon of a shrinking air space as the pressure rises and the volume reduces during descent and the pain felt by the diver when this happens. It normally happens in the diving mask and the drysuit.
Most lung pressure damage occurs on ascent where the high-pressure gas in the lung causes it to expand. As the lungs do not sense pain when over-expanded, the diver receives no warning to prevent the injury.
When diving, the pressure differences needed to cause the barotrauma come from two sources:
Diving barotrauma can be avoided by eliminating any pressure differences acting on the tissue or organ by equalising the pressure. There are a variety of techniques:
Use of a recompression chamber
Barotrauma and decompression illness are sometimes treated with a recompression chamber, which reproduces the pressure that a person had adjusted to before coming up too quickly to a lower-pressure zone; it allows slow decompression. However, a chamber (if misused) can also cause barotrauma, if the occupant is taken to three or four times atmospheric pressure and quickly returned to lower pressure. This occurs in the Tom Clancy novel Without Remorse.
Blast induced barotrauma
An explosive blast creates a pressure wave that can induce barotrauma. The difference in pressure between internal organs and the outer surface of the body causes injuries to internal organs that contain gas, such as the lungs, gastrointestinal tract, and ear.
Ventilator induced barotrauma
Mechanical ventilation can lead to barotrauma of the lungs. This can be due to either:
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Barotrauma". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|