Int J Sports Med 2005; 26(8): 626-631
DOI: 10.1055/s-2004-830379
Physiology & Biochemistry

© Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

Diving-Induced Venous Gas Emboli Do not Increase Pulmonary Artery Pressure

Z. Valic1 , D. Duplančić2 , D. Baković1 , V. Ivančev1 , D. Eterović1 , U. Wisløff3 , 4 , A. O. Brubakk4 , Ž. Dujić1
  • 1Department of Physiology and Biophysics, University of Split School of Medicine, Split, Croatia
  • 2Department of Internal Medicine, University of Split Clinical Hospital, Split Croatia
  • 3Department of Cardiology, St. Olavs Hospital, Trondheim, Norway
  • 4Department of Circulation and Medical Imaging, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway
Further Information

Publication History

Accepted after revision: August 10, 2004

Publication Date:
22 December 2004 (eFirst)


Venous gas emboli are frequently observed in divers even if proper decompression procedures are followed. This study was initiated to determine if pulmonary artery pressure increases in asymptomatic divers, which could increase the risk of arterial embolization due to passage of venous gas emboli from the right to the left side of the heart. Recordings of venous gas emboli and estimation of pulmonary artery pressure by non-invasive transthoracic echocardiography were applied in 10 recreational scuba diving volunteers before and 20, 40, 60, and 80 min after simulated dives to 18 m (80 min bottom time) in a hyperbaric chamber. The ratio between pulmonary artery acceleration time and right ventricular ejection time was used as an estimate of pulmonary artery pressure. None of investigated divers had signs of decompression sickness. Despite the post-dive presence of the venous gas emboli, measured in the region of the pulmonary valve annulus (mean = 1.71 bubbles · cm-2, 40 min after dive), the ratio between pulmonary artery acceleration time and right ventricular ejection time did not decrease, but actually increased (from 0.43 ± 0.06 to 0.49 ± 0.06, 40 min after dive; p < 0.05), suggesting a decrease in pulmonary artery pressure after the dive. We conclude that diving-induced venous gas bubbles do not cause significant changes in the central circulation which could increase the risk of arterial embolization.