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Oxygen Administration


To raise or not to raise the legs?

Raising the legs is carried out with casualties to lessen the effects of shock, but, not when DCI is suspected.

With suspected cases of DCI (Decompression Illness), the reason the casualty is laid flat, and not with the legs raised, is that this increases the venous return to the heart, and may cause a PFO (patent foramen ovale - hole in the heart condition) to open, causing a shunt of blood to the arterial circulation system. As the PFO may be the reason for the DCI in the first place, this may worsen the condition.

There is also the likelihood that raising the legs will cause the weight of the abdominal viscera to put pressure on the diaphragm, and the lungs, making the patient uncomfortable and restricting breathing, and this may also exacerbate a Pulmonary Barotrauma (burst lung) condition.


So we don't raise the legs if we suspect DCI in the casualty.


10th March 2001