Brainstem auditory evoked potentials during a helium-oxygen saturation dive to 450 meters of seawater

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Brainstem auditory evoked potentials during a helium-oxygen saturation dive to 450 meters of seawater

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Title: Brainstem auditory evoked potentials during a helium-oxygen saturation dive to 450 meters of seawater
Author: Lorenz, J; Brooke, ST; Petersen, R; Torok, Z; Wenzel, J
Abstract: When divers are exposed to extreme atmospheric pressures they may exhibit symptoms of the high pressure nervous syndrome (HPNS). Although clinical HPNS symptoms are well described, little is known about the underlying pathophysiologic mechanisms. Special HPNS signs like vertigo and tremor suggested sensory-motor hyperexcitability resulting from brainstem dysfunction. We therefore studied brainstem auditory evoked potential (BAEP) repeatedly in four divers during an experimental deep helium-oxygen saturation dive to 450 meters of seawater (msw). Wave I (auditory nerve response) latency decreased whereas interpeak latencies (IPLs) I-III and I-V, which indicate respective cochleo-pontine and cochleo-mesencephalic transmission time, prolonged during the dive. IPLs III-V also prolonged the dive, but with greater variability among divers. Two divers showed a marked reversal of the normal attenuation effect of increased stimulus presentation rates on IV and V amplitudes during compression, an effect that subsided during the stay at bottom depth. This finding might indicate a relative enhancement of synaptic excitability and is presumed to be a feature of HPNS. Wave I latency reduction might at least partly be caused by accelerated sound conduction in dense helium. Additionally, an upward shift of middle ear resonance frequencies in helium can induce a basal shift of the main cochlear portion responding to the wide band clicks. This effect may reduce wave I latency due to greater relative input from the basal high frequency-short latency-cochlear neurons. Pressure-induced decrease of nerve conduction velocity, delay of synaptic transmission, and inhibitory modulation of midbrain auditory afferents possibly contributed to observed interpeak latency prolongations. Clinical HPNS signs, such as tiredness, dizziness, postural and intentional hand tremor, ataxia, and opsoclonus, were noted in three divers after reaching 300 msw and continued throughout the 37-h stay at bottom depth.
Description: Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society, Inc. (http://www.uhms.org )
URI: PMID: 7580764
http://archive.rubicon-foundation.org/2205
Date: 1995

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