(See also Overview of Diving Injuries Overview of Diving Injuries More than 1000 diving-related injuries occur annually in the US; > 10% are fatal. Similar injuries can befall workers in tunnels or caissons (watertight retaining structures used for construction)... read more and Overview of Barotrauma Overview of Barotrauma Barotrauma is tissue injury caused by a pressure-related change in body compartment gas volume in air-containing areas. During ascent, gas expansion affects the lungs and gastrointestinal (GI)... read more .)
Breathing improperly from a regulator or using ear and sinus pressure-equalization techniques may cause divers to swallow small amounts of air during a dive. This air expands during ascent, causing abdominal fullness, cramps, pain, belching, and flatulence; these symptoms are self-limited. Gastrointestinal (GI) rupture rarely occurs, manifesting with severe abdominal pain and tenderness with rebound and guarding.
If signs of GI rupture are present, immediate upright chest x-ray or CT is done to detect free air. Milder symptoms require no testing.
Patients with GI rupture require aggressive fluid resuscitation, broad-spectrum antibiotic therapy, and immediate surgical consultation for possible exploratory laparotomy.
The following English-language resource may be useful. Please note that THE MANUAL is not responsible for the content of this resource.
Divers Alert Network: 24-hour emergency hotline, 919-684-9111