Decompression sickness among diving fishermen in Mexico: observational retrospective analysis of DCS in three sea cucumber fishing seasons.

The probabilities of decompression sickness (DCS) among diving fishermen are higher than in any other group of divers. Diving behavior of artisanal fishermen has been directed mainly to target high-value species. The aim of this study was to learn about the occurrence of DCS derived from sea cucumber harvesting in the Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico. We conducted a retrospective chart review of diving fishermen treated at a multiplace hyperbaric chamber in Tizimín, Mexico. In total, 233 recompression therapies were rendered to 166 diving fishermen from 2014 to 2016. The average age was 36.7 ± 9.2 years (range: 20-59 years); 84.3% had experienced at least one DCS event previously. There was a correlation between age and DCS incidents (F: 8.3; R2: 0.07) and differences in the fishing depth between seasons (H: 9.99; p⟨0.05). Musculoskeletal pain was the most frequently reported symptom. Three divers, respectively, suffered permanent hearing loss, spinal cord injury and fatal outcome. Diving fishermen experience DCS at an alarmingly high rate, probably due to the type of species targeted, given the requirements in each case. Understanding divers’ behaviors and their incentives while in pursuit of high-value species such as sea cucumber could help to find ways to mitigate health risks and help enforce regulation.

Relationship between clinical and radiologic findings of spinal cord injury in decompression sickness.

Decompression sickness may involve the central nervous system. The most common site is spinal cord. This study was conducted to determine the relationship between magnetic resonance(MR) imaging findings of spinal damage. We conducted a retrospective review of 12 patients (male=10, female=2) who presented with spinal cord symptoms. We investigated their clinical features, neurological findings and radiologic findings. The depth and bottom time of the dive were 34.5 meters (range 22-56) and 22.7 minutes (range 10-55) respectively. Most divers ascended within appropriate time frame as shown by the decompression tables. The most frequent initial symptoms were lower limb weakness (n=12), followed by sensory disturbances (n=10) and bladder dysfuction (n=5). The chief radiologic abnormalities were continuous (n=3), or non-continuous (n=5) high-signal intensity on T2-weighted images at posterior paramedian portion of the spinal cord, mainly thoracic level. There were no abnormal findings in the remaining four (4) patients, and they showed good prognosis. All patients were treated with hyperbaric oxygen therapy and some received high-dose dexamethasone. On discharge, five (5) patients had made a full recovery, seven (7) had some residual neurological sequelae, and all patients except one (1) regained normal bladder function. Spinal cord decompression sickness is a neurological emergency. Early recognition and treatment may minimize neurological damage. Initial normal finding in MR imaging was a good predictor for prognosis in spinal decompression sickness.