Diving accidents related to barotrauma constitute a unique subset of ischemic insults to the CNS. Victims may demonstrate components of arterial gas emoblism, which has a propensity for cerebral involvement, and/or decompression sickness, with primarily spinal cord involvement. Fourteen patients with diving-related barotrauma were studied with MR imaging of the brain and spinal cord and with CT of the brain. In four patients with presumed cerebral gas embolism, cranial MR was abnormal in three patients while CT was abnormal in only one. Twelve patients had decompression sickness and spinal cord symptoms. MR documented spinal cord abnormalities in three patients. However, scans obtained early in our study were frequently limited by technical constraints. MR of the brain is more sensitive than conventional CT scanning techniques in detecting and characterizing foci of cerebral ischemia caused by embolic barotrauma to the CNS. Although spinal MR may be less successful in the localization of spinal cord lesions related to decompression sickness, these lesions were previously undetectable by other neuroimaging methods.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging