Decompression sickness

Also known as: DCI
Decompression illness, or DCI, is a term used to describe illness that results from a reduction in the ambient pressure surrounding a body. This can take place when scuba diving, caisson working or flying unpressurized aircraft.

DCI encompasses two diseases, decompression sickness (DCS) and arterial gas embolism (AGE). DCS is thought to result from bubbles growing in tissue and causing local damage, while AGE results from bubbles entering the lung circulation, traveling through the arteries and causing tissue damage at a distance by blocking blood flow at the small vessel level.

Based at Providence Portland Medical Center, the unit is Oregon's only 24-hour hospital-based hyperbaric service.

During hyperbaric oxygen therapy, pressurized chambers with a 100 percent oxygen environment counter the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning, smoke inhalation, and decompression illness in scuba divers, as well as promote tissue healing in patients with impaired circulation due to diabetes, trauma and radiation therapy.