Background: Diving related illness has become a public health concern, as there is an increasing number of divers worldwide. However, in general, the incidence of Decompression Illness (DCI), a medical disorder as a result of sudden reduction of ambient pressure, remains low. This paper describes the pattern of decompression illness treated in a military hospital-based recompression chamber facility in Peninsular Malaysia from year 2000 until 2010.
Objective: The objective of this study was to determine the pattern of decompression illness patients treated with Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) in a military hospital-based recompression chamber facility in Peninsular Malaysia.
Methodology: A retrospective descriptive study was carried out to utilize secondary data from Hospital Angkatan Tentera Lumut, Perak from 1st January 2000 to 31st December 2010. A total of 96 cases were included in this study with an average of 10 cases per year.
Results: Most of the divers were male (94.8%), recreational divers (43.0%), non-smokers (56.3%), with no previous medical illness (85.4%), dived with compressed air (78.0%), had less than 5 years diving experience (56.3%), non-instructor (75.0%), and had body mass index between 18.5 to 24.9 kg/m2 (59.4%). Interestingly, 25% of the divers dived to less than 10 meters depth, 35.4% went for a single dive and 71.9% performed safety stops. The majority of the patients had symptoms started within 12 hours after surfacing (85.4%) and had neurological manifestation (61.5%). Only 16.7% of the patients had HBOT commenced within 6 hours from the onset of symptoms with 93.8% from this group had complete recovery. Overall, 76.0% of patients had full recovery after HBOT.
Conclusion: Diving activities must be closely monitored. Medical surveillance as well as legislations related to diving activities in Malaysia are essential to improve SCUBA discipline and to reduce mortality and morbidity of DCI in the future.