The definitive treatment for DCS is hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) therapy, or the delivery of pure oxygen at a pressure substantially higher than that of atmospheric pressure. HBO therapy reduces the size of any bubbles and improves gradients which promote oxygen delivery and inert gas elimination. HBO therapy is typically delivered in recompression chambers.
Neal W. PollockNeal W. PollockThis is a monoplace hyperbaric chamber — able to hold a single patient, without any inside support personnel, or “tenders.”
A common HBO regimen is the U.S. Navy Treatment Table 6 (USN 2008). According to this regimen,
the hyperbaric chamber is initially pressurized to 2.8 atmospheres absolute (ATA), equivalent to the pressure found at 60 feet (18 meters) of seawater. The patient breathes pure oxygen, interspersed with scheduled periods of breathing regular air to reduce the risk of oxygen toxicity. The usual duration of the USN TT6 treatment is just under five hours, but extensions can be added as required, based on the patient's response.
Neal W. PollockNeal W. PollockThis is a small multiplace and multilock hyperbaric chamber; it can hold multiple patients plus inside tenders. Personnel or equipment can be transferred into or out of the chamber while treatment is ongoing.
HBO treatment can be conducted in a monoplace chamber, often an acrylic tube sized to hold just one patient, or in a multiplace chamber, sized to accommodate one or more patients plus one or more "tenders" — that is, technicians or other medical personnel. Multilock chambers are designed to allow patients, tenders or equipment to be transferred into and out of the chamber while treatment is ongoing.