Abstract

When awake goats were subjected to isobaric gas switching from saturation (17 hours) on 4.7 atmospheres of nitrogen (0.3 atmosphere of oxygen) to 4.7 atmospheres of helium (0.3 atmosphere of oxygen), bubbles detected by 5-megahertz Doppler ultrasound in the posterior vena cava 20 to 60 minutes after the switch continued for 4 hours. Similar experiments carried out at 6.7 atmospheres of inert gas and 0.3 atmosphere of oxygen produced more bubbles for as long as 12 hours after the gas switch. This is believed to be the first objective demonstration of the phenomenon of deep isobaric supersaturation under transient operational diving conditions at relatively shallow diving depths. Detection of bubbles by Doppler ultrasound confirms the potential importance of the phenomenon to shallow saturation diving and holds promise for better quantitification of its effects as well as those of its counterpart, isobaric undersaturation, which can confer a decompression advantage.