Journal of Applied Physiology

Effect of decompression per se on nitrogen elimination

B. A. Hills


The elimination of nitrogen from each of 10 unanesthetized guinea pigs has been monitored after switching to a nitrogen-free breathing mix (normoxic He:O2), either without decompression or on decompression to 2.21 or 1 ATA, following an exposure of 2 h at 4 ATA on normoxic N2;O2. Normoxic conditions were maintained throughout to avoid vasomotor effects of oxygen that could have complicated interpretations derived from previous studies. Results confirmed that inert gas washout rates decrease with decompression per se. This can be explained simply on the basis of the decrease in driving force for nitrogen elimination caused by depositing gas into bubbles where they form in tissue in a somewhat random manner. A very rough estimate shows that about 83% of all body tissue retained its gas in supersaturated solution on decompression to 2.21 ATA but only 79% did so at 1 ATA.