Total = 4065
Gaseous pressures both inside and outside the body, showing (A) saturation of the body to high gas pressures when breathing air at a total pressure of 5000 mm Hg, and (B) the great excesses of intra-body pressures that are responsible for bubble formation in the tissues when the lung intra-alveolar pressure body is suddenly returned from 5000 mm Hg to normal pressure of 760 mm Hg.
nitrogen pressure (Pn2 = 3918 mm Hg), about 6.5 times the normal amount of nitrogen in the tissues. As long as the diver remains deep beneath the sea, the pressure against the outside of his or her body (5000 mm Hg) compresses all the body tissues sufficiently to keep the excess nitrogen gas dissolved. But when the diver suddenly rises to sea level (Figure 44-35), the pressure on the outside of the body becomes only 1 atmosphere (760mmHg), while the gas pressure inside the body fluids is the sum of the pressures of water vapor, carbon dioxide, oxygen, and nitrogen, or a total of 4065 mm Hg, 97 per cent of which is caused by the nitrogen. Obviously, this total value of 4065 mm Hg is far greater than the 760 mm Hg pressure on the outside of the body. Therefore, the gases can escape from the dissolved state and form actual bubbles, composed almost entirely of nitrogen, both in the tissues and in the blood where they plug many small blood vessels. The bubbles may not appear for many minutes to hours, because sometimes the gases can remain dissolved in the "supersaturated" state for hours before bubbling.
Symptoms of Decompression Sickness ("Bends").
The symptoms of decompression sickness are caused by gas bubbles blocking many blood vessels in different tissues. At first, only the smallest vessels are blocked by minute bubbles, but as the bubbles coalesce, progressively larger vessels are affected.
Was this article helpful?
This ebook provides an introductory explanation of the workings of the human body, with an effort to draw connections between the body systems and explain their interdependencies. A framework for the book is homeostasis and how the body maintains balance within each system. This is intended as a first introduction to physiology for a college-level course.