Comparative Testing of Ultrasound Devices in Monitoring VGE

In some divers, tiny bubbles called Venous Gas Emboli (VGE) present in the blood after a dive. Typically, these bubbles cause no harm and are filtered out by the lungs, but in some divers these bubbles can pass through a right-to-left shunt into the arterial circulation and become problematic. Researchers can detect and quantify VGE in the hearts of divers immediately after a dive with ultrasound and potentially use this data to calculate DCS risk. In this study, DAN researchers compare the effectiveness of three different ultrasound devices used to monitor post-dive venous gas emboli in healthy divers.


One major limitation to doing research on divers in the field is the ability to use ultrasound machines designed for use in a doctor’s office. These devices are cumbersome, require a lot of power and are not waterproof, which has previously made transporting and using ultrasound machines on dive boats very difficult. Fortunately, newer handheld ultrasound and doppler devices have been created that could remedy this problem.

In this study, DAN is comparing the effectiveness of three different ultrasound devices used to monitor post-dive venous gas emboli in healthy divers. The devices are a standard laptop-sized 2-D ultrasound machine, a handheld 2-D ultrasound probe that connects to a tablet or smart phone, as well as a small handheld sub-clavicular doppler device.

To test the effectiveness of these handheld devices in the field, subjects will be scanned using all three devices once; before the dive and at regular intervals after the dive. By the end of this study, DAN Research hopes to clarify whether the DCS-risk classification obtained from the recordings of each device is comparable.