The authors report a case of barotraumatic cerebral air embolism following scuba diving, in which air embolism was diagnosed by CT. This kind of disorder becomes more frequent with the greater popularity of scuba diving. A healthy 24-year old woman made a rapid ascent with breath hold after a scuba dive to 8 meters for 20 minutes. On surfacing, she felt chest pain radiating to the cervical region. Shortly thereafter, she developed visual obscuration and weakness in the right arm and leg. On admission, neurological examination revealed right hemiparesis with hemisensory disturbance. Visual acuity was counting fingers at 1 meter in the right eye and only perception of hand movement in the left. CT obtained 10 hours after the onset revealed no abnormality except for a small area of air density. A chest x-ray film revealed mediastinal emphysema tracking into the neck. T2-weighted MRI 22 hours after the onset revealed multiple areas of high intensity, suggesting ischemic lesions, in the left hemispheric white matter. The visual disturbance, probably due to air embolism in the retinal vessels, was gradually improved and completely disappeared 24 hours after the onset. Nevertheless, there was no change in the motor and sensory disturbance of the extremities. The patient was transferred to an institution with hyperbaric facilities and was given hyperbaric oxygen therapy 30 hours after the accident with almost complete recovery of neurological function.
Nakao, Moriwaki, Oiwa, , , , , , (1990). [Barotraumatic cerebral air embolism following scuba diving]. No to shinkei = Brain and nerve, 1990 Nov;42(11):1097-100. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2076356