A comparison of white matter hyperintensities in divers and offshore workers using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): The ELTHI Diving Study

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Abstract

INTRODUCTION: The ELTHI Diving Study showed that professional divers are 3 times more likely than aged matched offshore workers to report 'forgetfulness or loss of concentration'. The aim of this study was to compare brain images of 'forgetful' divers (n= 98) with 'non-forgetful' divers (n= 98) and 'non-forgetful' offshore workers (n= 95) in search of neural locus of this effect. In this group of subjects the complaint of 'forgetfulness' had been objectively confirmed by neuropsychological testing. METHODS: The age matched subjects underwent brain MRI on a 1.5 Tesla system (General Electric) using T2 weighted axial, fluid attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR) and T1 weighted 3D volumetric sequences. FLAIR images were scored using a modified Scheltens scoring system by two experienced and blinded observers for subcortical and deep white matter hyperintensities (WMH). WMH were given a score from 0 to 6 according to size, number and anatomical location in each of the frontal (score 34, regarded as notable), parietal, temporal and occipital lobes and in the internal capsule. These regional scores were summed for total WMH, with a score 36 regarded as notable. RESULTS: The percent of divers and offshore workers with notable WMH did not differ significantly (see table). These data were not adjusted for age, decompression illness or factors previously associated with WMH and the analysis presented here is at an early stage."Forgetful" Divers (percent) "Non-forgetful" Divers (percent) "Non-forgetful" Offshore workers (percent), Total WMH (score 36) 7 16 13, Frontal WMH (score 3 4) 6 8 6. CONCLUSIONS: Despite divers reporting more cognitive problems, in a subject group where this complaint had been objectively validated, we have as yet seen no significant difference in WMH occurrence between 'forgetful' divers, 'non-forgetful' divers and 'non-forgetful' offshore workers. MRI, diving, memory, white matter lesions
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225
Number of pages1
JournalUndersea & Hyperbaric Medicine
Volume30
Publication statusPublished - 2003

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