Dysbaric osteonecrosis: a reassessment and hypothesis

Dysbaric osteonecrosis: a reassessment and hypothesis Dysbaric osteonecrosis is associated with exposure to large ambient pressure changes, and comprises necrotic lesions in the fatty marrow-containing shafts of the long bones, and the ball and socket joints (hips and shoulders). The fundamental causes are still in question and the illness remains a significant health hazard. Radiological and pathological features of both dysbaric and non-dysbaric osteonecrosis are indistinguishable and both are characterized by intramedullary venous stasis, ischemia and necrosis of bone. It has been generally accepted that gas bubbles (probably by initiating intramedullary venous stasis) are the prime cause of dysbaric osteonecrosis, as well as being responsible for Type 1 Decompression Sickness or ‘the bends’. Importantly, however, not all series have found a correlation between dysbaric osteonecrosis and ‘the bends’. Thus even though it is likely that gas bubbles remain the prime cause of dysbaric osteonecrosis, workers have proposed that in some cases there is another etiological factor which may exaggerate the pathologic effects of gas bubbles, making the bone more susceptible to necrosis. It is proposed that rapid compression by impeding venous drainage from bone initiates intramedullary venous stasis. In the presence of intramedullary gas bubbles, this may progress to thrombosis, ischemia and bone necrosis. The review offers an explanation for total sparing of the knee joint in dysbaric osteonecrosis, and sole involvement of the hip and shoulder (in terms of sub-articular lesions and subsequent joint collapse). In addition to continued observance of proper decompression procedures, a slower rate of compression may further reduce the incidence of dysbaric osteonecrosis. Bone death or osteonecrosis is a concept which Hippocrates put forward in antiquity (1), but it was not until 1794 that James Russell of Edinburgh wrote the first modern-day descriptions. In these cases infection was the predominant etiology (1,2). In 1888 Konig described necrosis of the adult femoral head without infection (3) (aseptic necrosis of bone) and in the same year Twynam reported a case of osteonecrosis in a caisson worker (4) in which there was still a significant infective component. In 1911 Bornstein and Plate, followed later and independently by Bassoe in 1913, presented radiological confirmation of aseptic necrosis of bone in compressed air workers (5). The first report of aseptic necrosis in an underwater diver subsequently appeared in 1936 (6). The condition of aseptic necrosis of bone in association with exposure to raised ambient pressure (previously referred to as caisson disease, pressure-induced osteoarthropathy (7), ‘bone rot’ (8) and other synonyms (6)) is now generally known as dysbaric osteonecrosis (6). Despite detailed examination of this problem by many authorities, dysbaric osteonecrosis still remains a significant occupational hazard with serious medico-legal consequences (5–13). This suggests that preventative measures are being based upon an incomplete understanding of the pathophysiology of the disease, and that other etiological factors are perhaps being overlooked. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Medical Hypotheses Elsevier

Dysbaric osteonecrosis: a reassessment and hypothesis

Loading next page...
 
/lp/elsevier/dysbaric-osteonecrosis-a-reassessment-and-hypothesis-awmOtCWs3a
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Dysbaric osteonecrosis is associated with exposure to large ambient pressure changes, and comprises necrotic lesions in the fatty marrow-containing shafts of the long bones, and the ball and socket joints (hips and shoulders). The fundamental causes are still in question and the illness remains a significant health hazard. Radiological and pathological features of both dysbaric and non-dysbaric osteonecrosis are indistinguishable and both are characterized by intramedullary venous stasis, ischemia and necrosis of bone. It has been generally accepted that gas bubbles (probably by initiating intramedullary venous stasis) are the prime cause of dysbaric osteonecrosis, as well as being responsible for Type 1 Decompression Sickness or ‘the bends’. Importantly, however, not all series have found a correlation between dysbaric osteonecrosis and ‘the bends’. Thus even though it is likely that gas bubbles remain the prime cause of dysbaric osteonecrosis, workers have proposed that in some cases there is another etiological factor which may exaggerate the pathologic effects of gas bubbles, making the bone more susceptible to necrosis. It is proposed that rapid compression by impeding venous drainage from bone initiates intramedullary venous stasis. In the presence of intramedullary gas bubbles, this may progress to thrombosis, ischemia and bone necrosis. The review offers an explanation for total sparing of the knee joint in dysbaric osteonecrosis, and sole involvement of the hip and shoulder (in terms of sub-articular lesions and subsequent joint collapse). In addition to continued observance of proper decompression procedures, a slower rate of compression may further reduce the incidence of dysbaric osteonecrosis. Bone death or osteonecrosis is a concept which Hippocrates put forward in antiquity (1), but it was not until 1794 that James Russell of Edinburgh wrote the first modern-day descriptions. In these cases infection was the predominant etiology (1,2). In 1888 Konig described necrosis of the adult femoral head without infection (3) (aseptic necrosis of bone) and in the same year Twynam reported a case of osteonecrosis in a caisson worker (4) in which there was still a significant infective component. In 1911 Bornstein and Plate, followed later and independently by Bassoe in 1913, presented radiological confirmation of aseptic necrosis of bone in compressed air workers (5). The first report of aseptic necrosis in an underwater diver subsequently appeared in 1936 (6). The condition of aseptic necrosis of bone in association with exposure to raised ambient pressure (previously referred to as caisson disease, pressure-induced osteoarthropathy (7), ‘bone rot’ (8) and other synonyms (6)) is now generally known as dysbaric osteonecrosis (6). Despite detailed examination of this problem by many authorities, dysbaric osteonecrosis still remains a significant occupational hazard with serious medico-legal consequences (5–13). This suggests that preventative measures are being based upon an incomplete understanding of the pathophysiology of the disease, and that other etiological factors are perhaps being overlooked.

Journal

Medical HypothesesElsevier

Published: Apr 1, 2000

References

You’re reading a free preview. Subscribe to read the entire article.


DeepDyve is your
personal research library

It’s your single place to instantly
discover and read the research
that matters to you.

Enjoy affordable access to
over 18 million articles from more than
15,000 peer-reviewed journals.

All for just $49/month

Explore the DeepDyve Library

Search

Query the DeepDyve database, plus search all of PubMed and Google Scholar seamlessly

Organize

Save any article or search result from DeepDyve, PubMed, and Google Scholar... all in one place.

Access

Get unlimited, online access to over 18 million full-text articles from more than 15,000 scientific journals.

Your journals are on DeepDyve

Read from thousands of the leading scholarly journals from SpringerNature, Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford University Press and more.

All the latest content is available, no embargo periods.

See the journals in your area

DeepDyve

Freelancer

DeepDyve

Pro

Price

FREE

$49/month
$360/year

Save searches from
Google Scholar,
PubMed

Create folders to
organize your research

Export folders, citations

Read DeepDyve articles

Abstract access only

Unlimited access to over
18 million full-text articles

Print

20 pages / month

PDF Discount

20% off