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Hyperventilation and submarine escape

Deam, Roberta Kay; (1991) Hyperventilation and submarine escape. Doctoral thesis (M.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

The Royal Navy have demonstrated in two sea trials that it is possible for men to make successful escapes from submarines at depths of about 600 ft. However, the outcomes suggest this depth is close to the limit of safe escape under ideal conditions and might be well beyond it in real circumstances. The problem lies in the substantial accumulation of nitrogen which occurs in nervous tissue during all but the last few seconds of the brief escape procedure. As the surface of the sea is approached the nitrogen may evolve destructively as bubbles. This thesis explores the idea that hyperventilation prior to escape might reduce the risk of bubble formation. Hyperventilation lowers the partial pressure of CO2 in arterial blood. This is known to constrict cerebrospinal arteries and arterioles and so should restrict the build up of dissolved nitrogen in central nervous tissue. Preliminary experiments by others have indicated that human volunteers can complete the escape procedure successfully after hyperventilating to a PACO2 of 20 mmHg or so. This degree of hyperventilation should halve the inflow of nitrogen.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: M.D
Title: Hyperventilation and submarine escape
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Biological sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10124665
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