Probabilistic models and maximum likelihood estimation have been used to predict the occurrence of decompression sickness (DCS). We indicate a means of extending the maximum likelihood parameter estimation procedure to make use of knowledge of the time at which DCS occurs. Two models were compared in fitting a data set of nearly 1,000 exposures, in which greater than 50 cases of DCS have known times of symptom onset. The additional information provided by the time at which DCS occurred gave us better estimates of model parameters. It was also possible to discriminate between good models, which predict both the occurrence of DCS and the time at which symptoms occur, and poorer models, which may predict only the overall occurrence. The refined models may be useful in new applications for customizing decompression strategies during complex dives involving various times at several different depths. Conditional probabilities of DCS for such dives may be reckoned as the dive is taking place and the decompression strategy adjusted to circumstance. Some of the mechanistic implications and the assumptions needed for safe application of decompression strategies on the basis of conditional probabilities are discussed.
- Copyright © 1992 the American Physiological Society