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Hyperbaric medicine

Published on 26 March 2024

The hyperbaric medicine unit provides treatment and advice for diving-related illness (known as 'the bends'). It uses recompression/decompression therapy.

The unit is situated within Aberdeen Royal Infirmary which has a Category 1 chamber. There is also one other centre based in Stromness, on Orkney with a Category 2 chamber. Each provide advice and care to appropriate patients.

What is hyperbaric medicine?

Hyperbaric medicine includes hyperbaric oxygen treatment, which is the medical use of oxygen at greater than atmospheric pressure to increase the availability of oxygen in the body. Therapeutic recompression is another alternative. This involves increasing the ambient pressure on a person to treat decompression sickness or an air embolism by eliminating bubbles that have formed within the body. The recompression chamber is also used to treat diving-related cases of carbon monoxide poisoning and air/gas embolism.

The purpose of the unit is to respond to calls for advice. These might come from recreational divers, diving organisations, medical staff in general practice, hospital services and emergency services – in particular the coastguard.

The service is available 24 hours a day, for 7 days a week.

Further information is available on the Scottish Diving Medicine website.