Doctors for divers. Dive medicine.

When my mother became a master scuba diver with almost sixty years the sport spread within my brain as a keyword. Even if she doesn’t dive anymore I am sensitive about words related to diving so I was attracted lately by «Dive Medicine» and my blog energy was activated:

1968, Durham, North Carolina.
The today’s leader of medical care of injured divers, Duke Dive Medicine of the Duke University Medical Center, opens the doors of a $10 million facility. Seven large steel chambers capable of simulating the high pressure of 1,000 feet below seawater to the low pressure of 100,000 feet above sea level (near space). «The world authority in dive medicine, research and education».

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A hospital for divers? Some 250 km off the atlantic coast there is the Duke Center for Hyperbaric Medicine and Evironmental Physiology of the Duke University of School Medicine.
Control panel room with one of the steel tanks behind
See more in the chamber photo gallery

24 hours per day 365 days per year Emergency & Duke Hyperbaric Chamber
– hyperbaric facility accredited by the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society
– treatment of diving injuries
– research in the areas of carbon monoxide poisoning, decompression sickness, oxygen toxicity and the adverse effects of radiation, and is the advisory center for DiveAssure (Insurance)
A look into the 6 m diameter «Charlie» Chamber – one of the nation’s largest hyperbaric chambers – where patients can sit:
Typical session: 2,5 hours, twice-daily.

The hyperbaric oxygen therapy within the chamber: pressurized oxygen to speed healing of wounds including skin grafts, diabetic foot ulcers and infections. So patients breathe 100 percent oxygen at increased atmospheric pressure.

Duke Dive Medicine
– Read about the fascinating history of this unique facility here
– More than 1000 scientific publications have come from the Center For Hyperbaric Medicine And Environmental Physiology since 1963
– Science research support by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
– Initiated the founding of the Divers Alert Network (DAN), an emergency hotline for recreational divers, non-profit organization
– Numerous research projects, a lot funded by the U.S. Navy
Duke research: work with a participant during a study about swimming
See more research photos in the gallery


Diving Medicine around the globe
This hospital speciality where treatment and care is an attached service to the «standard» infrastructure of the hospital is offering always a «chamber service». Diving Medicine is a worldwide issue of course. Like the Diving Medicine Center at Bangkok Hospital Phuket in Thailand with their HBOT.
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The emergency treatment:
– 24 hour on-call diving physician
– HBOT (hyperbaric Badalveda oxygen therapy) is a decompression sickness treatment in which a patient breathes 100% oxygen intermittently while inside a treatment chamber at a pressure higher than sea level pressure (1 atmosphere absolute)
– Primary or adjunctive treatments in Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy: iatrogenic arterial gas embolism, carbon monoxide poisoning, severe crush injury, clostridia gas gangrene, necrotizing soft tissue infection, thermal burns, brain abscess, chronic refractory osteomyelitis, problem wounds from diabetes and late effect of radiation tissue injuries.

The specialized hospital offers
– In-chamber Television
– Monoplace Hyperbaric Chamber
– Personalized Treatment Room
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Treatments from one to two hours, multiple sessions. The patient is in a body-length transparent tube with a doctor or nurse right having visual contact. A two-way radio allows the patient to communicate.


An total captivating particularity in the hospital world. Dive Medicine. There is even a Worldwide Hyperbaric Chamber Locator in the Web. What a huge piece of dedicated research, care and constant development for divers and other patients around the hyperbaric oxygen therapy. To all specialists around the world – you have my full respect.

Maurice Codourey

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