Aerospace Decompression Illness


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Start Date

1 Sep 2023

Last Review Date

9 Jan 2024

Expiration Date

31 Aug 2026

Estimated Time To Finish

60 Minutes

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Activity Description

Decompression illness can occur when the human body is exposed to low environmental barometric pressures when ascending while diving or at high altitudes. This activity rapidly releases the inert gas nitrogen, typically dissolved in bodily fluids and tissues, causing it to come out of solution in the bloodstream and form bubbles. These bubbles formed within the body can affect various organ systems, such as the joints, brain, skin, and lungs, leading to decompression sickness during aerospace activities. This condition can occur due to nonpressurized aircraft flights, flights experiencing cabin pressure fluctuations, flying shortly after diving, and using altitude chambers. Common symptoms include joint pain, headaches, paresthesia, and visual changes, with severe consequences ranging from paralysis, seizures, loss of consciousness, or death. 

The diagnosis is made based on clinical examination and is confirmed after receiving hyperbaric oxygen treatment and observing improvement in the patient's condition. Timely intervention usually results in a favorable prognosis, even though some patients may require further diagnostic tests to rule out other possible diagnoses, and some may still experience residual neurological symptoms. This activity reviews the etiology, pathophysiology, evaluation, and management of aerospace decompression illness. This activity also provides healthcare professionals with the essential knowledge and tools necessary for timely intervention, diagnosis, and treatment of this condition, aiming to enhance overall patient outcomes.

Target Audience

This activity has been designed to meet the educational needs of physicians, physician associates, nurses, pharmacists, and nurse practitioners.

Learning Objectives

At the conclusion of this activity, the learner will be better able to:

  • Identify early diagnostic indicators of aerospace decompression illness, recognizing subtle symptoms that may otherwise go unnoticed.

  • Differentiate between symptoms of aerospace decompression illness and other potential diagnoses, minimizing the risk of misdiagnosis and ensuring accurate and timely treatment.

  • Select appropriate diagnostic tests when necessary, considering the need for timely intervention and avoiding delays in treating aerospace decompression illness.

  • Implement interprofessional team strategies for improving care coordination and communication to improve overall patient outcomes in patients with aerospace decompression illness. 


StatPearls, LLC requires everyone who influences the content of an educational activity to disclose relevant financial relationships with ineligible companies that have occurred within the past 24 months. Ineligible companies are organizations whose primary business is producing, marketing, selling, re-selling, or distributing healthcare products used by or on patients. All relevant conflict(s) of interest have been mitigated. Hover over contributor names for financial disclosures. Others involved in planning this educational activity have no relevant financial relationships to disclose.

Commercial Support: This activity has received NO commercial support.

Continuing Education Accreditation Information

In support of improving patient care, StatPearls, LLC is jointly accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) to provide continuing education for the healthcare team.


Physicians and Physician Associates: StatPearls, LLC designates this enduring material for a maximum of 1.00 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)TM. Physicians and PAs should only claim credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

American Board of Anesthesiology: This activity contributes to the CME component of the American Board of Anesthesiology’s redesigned Maintenance of Certification in AnesthesiologyTM (MOCA®) program, known as MOCA 2.0®. Please consult the ABA website,, for a list of all MOCA 2.0 requirements.

American Board of Internal Medicine: Successful completion of this CME activity, which includes participation in the evaluation component, enables the participant to earn up to 1.00 MOC points in the American Board of Internal Medicine’s (ABIM) Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program. It is the CME activity provider’s responsibility to submit participant completion information to ACCME for the purpose of granting ABIM MOC credit.

American Board of Pathology: Successful completion of this Continuing Certification activity, which includes participation in the evaluation component, enables the participant to earn up to 1.00 Lifelong Learning (CME) credits in the American Board of Pathology’s Continuing Certification Program.

American Board of Pediatrics: Successful completion of this CME activity, which includes participation in the evaluation component, enables the learner to earn up to 1.00 MOC points in the American Board of Pediatrics’ (ABP) Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program. It is the CME activity provider’s responsibility to submit learner completion information to ACCME for the purpose of granting ABP MOC credit.

Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada: Through an agreement between the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, medical practitioners participating in the Royal College MOC Program may record completion of accredited activities registered under the ACCME’s “CME in Support of MOC” program in Section 3 of the Royal College’s MOC Program.

Please consult your professional licensing board for information on the applicability and acceptance of continuing education credit for this activity.

Method of Participation and Credit

  1. Register for the activity.    
  2. Review the target audience, learning objectives, and disclosure information.
  3. Study the educational content of the enduring material.
  4. Choose the best answer to each activity test question. To receive credit and a certificate, you must pass the test questions with a minimum score of 100%.
  5. Complete the post-activity assessment survey.

If you have concerns regarding the CE/CME system, please contact


This educational activity was planned and produced in accordance with the ACCME Standards for Integrity and Independence in Accredited Continuing Education. Faculty may discuss investigational products or off-label uses of products regulated by the FDA. Readers should verify all information before employing any therapies described in this educational activity.

The information provided for this activity is for continuing education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical/clinical judgment of a healthcare provider relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient’s medical condition. The information presented does not necessarily reflect the views of StatPearls or any commercial supporters of educational activities on StatPearls expressly disclaims responsibility for any adverse consequences resulting directly or indirectly from information in the course, for undetected error, or through a participant's misunderstanding of the content.

Unapproved Uses of Drugs/Devices: In accordance with FDA requirements, the audience is advised that information presented in this continuing education activity may contain references to unlabeled or unapproved uses of drugs or devices. Please refer to the FDA-approved package insert for each drug/device for full prescribing/utilization information.

Cancellation Policy: Please see the cancellation policy. StatPearls, LLC reserves the right to cancel any course due to unforeseen circumstances.




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