Istituto di Scienza e Tecnologie dell'Informazione     
L'Abbate A., Marabotti C., Kusmic C., Pagliazzo A., Navari A., Positano V., Palermo M., Benassi A., Bedini R. Post-dive ultrasound detection of gas in the liver of rats and scuba divers. In: European journal of applied physiology, vol. 111 (9) pp. 2213 - 2219. Springer, 2011.
In a previous study, we obtained histologic documentation of liver gas embolism in the rat model of rapid decompression. The aim of the study was to assess in the same model occurrence and time course of liver embolism using 2-D ultrasound imaging, and to explore by this means putative liver gas embolism in recreational scuba divers. Following 42 min compression at 7 ATA breathing air and 12 min decompression, eight surviving female rats were anesthetized and the liver imaged by ultrasound at 20 min intervals up to 120 min. A significant enhancement of echo signal was recorded from 60 to 120 min as compared to earlier post-decompression times. Enzymatic markers of liver damage (AST, ALT, and GGT) increased significantly at 24 h upon decompression. Twelve healthy experienced divers were studied basally and at 15-min intervals up to 60 min following a 30-min scuba dive at 30 msw depth. At 30 min upon surfacing echo images showed significant signal enhancement that progressed and reached plateau at 45 and 60 min. Total bilirubin at 24 h increased significantly (p = 0.02) with respect to basal values although within the reference range. In conclusion, 2-D ultrasound liver imaging allowed detection of gas embolism in the rat and defined the time course of gas accumulation. Its application to scuba divers revealed liver gas accumulation in all subjects in the absence of clear-cut evidence of liver damage or of any symptom. The clinical significance of our findings remains to be investigated.
Subject Decompression liver gas embolism

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