Decompression Illness


  • John Lippmann

  • Reviewed by: Peter A. Leggat, MD, PhD, School of Public Health, Tropical Medicine and Rehabilitation Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland 4811, Australia. E-mail:

64 pp, with illustrations, soft cover, AU$8.50, ISBN 978 0 9752290 6 4, Melbourne, Australia: J.L. Publications, 2011. Available through Diver Alert Network (DAN) Asia-Pacific for members at this price, (Accessed 2012 July 31).

Decompression illness (DCI) is “caused by bubbles in blood or tissue during or after a reduction in environmental pressure (decompression)” (p. 153).[1] It is most commonly associated with divers, but can also occur in compressed air workers, aviators, and astronauts.[1] It is potentially fatal, especially if bubbles cause vascular obstruction and stroke-like events,[1] and may leave residual deficits even after treatment. DCI is therefore relevant to travel health advisors and diving medical examiners who deal with travelers undertaking diving as part of their itinerary's activities. John Lippmann's Decompression Illness: A simple guide and practical advice on the recognition, management and prevention of DCI is a concise booklet designed to provide easy reading for both divers and those who might manage DCI. This compact publication includes an Introduction, an About the Author, a Table of Contents, Acknowledgements, five main chapters, a Glossary, and Further Reading. It also contains 23 full color photographs and figures. There is no Foreword, Preface, list of abbreviations, or an index. Being compact, the guide could be easily carried with other travel documents or in the carry-on bag.

Decompression Illness is a useful aid for the diver and diving medic, which provides a ready reference of essential knowledge of DCI. The main chapters include: 1. Nitrogen update and elimination and bubble formation; 2. Decompression illness; 3. Patent foramen ovale; 4. Oxygen first aid; and 5. The realities of diving accidents in remote places. Chapters are consistently represented with a number of chapters including case studies, which nicely illustrate clinical issues. The booklet is hard to fault. The only possible suggestion is to expand the information on basic first aid for divers; however, there is mention of the “DRSABCD” and life-saving procedures.[2] The absence of an index may also be a barrier for someone wanting to quickly find information, but the limited glossary contains useful definitions of some terms commonly used in association with DCI.

Decompression Illness is written by John Lippmann, who has 40 years' experience in diving and 30 years' experience in researching, teaching, and consulting on safe diving, decompression, and accident management. It states in “About the Author” that John is “Executive Director and Director of Training of the Divers Alert Network (DAN) Asia-Pacific, which he helped to found in 1994” (p. 5). Decompression Illness gives concise coverage on an important diving-associated illness. It is an essential reference for diving organizations, clinics specializing in diving medicine, and those health professionals managing DCI.