A physiological model of the interaction between tissue bubbles and the formation of blood-borne bubbles under decompression.

Physics in Medicine and Biology 51(9):2321 (2006) PMID 16625045

Under decompression, bubbles can form in the human body, and these can be found both within the body tissues and the bloodstream. Mathematical models for the growth of both types of bubbles have previously been presented, but they have not been coupled together. This work thus explores the interaction between the growth of tissue and blood-borne bubbles under decompression, specifically looking at the extent to which they compete for the common resource of inert gas held in solution in the tissues. The influence of tissue bubbles is found to be significant for densities as low as 10 ml(-1) for tissues which are poorly perfused. However, the effects of formation of bubbles in the blood are not found until the density of bubble production sites reaches 10(6) ml(-1). From comparison of the model predictions with experimental evidence for bubbles produced in animals and man under decompression, it is concluded that the density of tissue bubbles is likely to have a significant effect on the number of bubbles produced in the blood. However, the density of nucleation sites in the blood is unlikely to be sufficiently high in humans for the formation of bubbles in the blood to have a significant impact on the growth of the bubbles in the tissue.