Journal article

Spleen Volume and Contraction During Apnea in Mt. Everest Climbers and Everest Base Camp Trekkers

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Publication Details

Author list: MULDER E, MULDER E, MULDER E, HOLMSTRÖM P

Publication year: 2020

Start page: 84

End page: 91

Number of pages: 8

ISSN: 1527-0297

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/ham.2019.0028

View additional information: View in Web of Science


Abstract

The human spleen can contract and transiently boost the blood with stored erythrocytes. We measured spleen volume and contraction during apneas in two groups, each containing 12 Caucasian participants (each 3 women): one group planning to summit Mt. Everest (8848?m; ""Climbers"") and another trekking to Everest Base Camp (5300?m; ""Trekkers""). Tests were done in Kathmandu (1370?m) 1-3 days after arrival, before the Climb/Trek. Age, height, weight, vital capacity, resting heart rate, and arterial oxygen saturation were similar between groups (not significant). After 15 minutes of sitting rest, all participants performed a 1-minute apnea and, after 2 minutes of rest, 1 maximal duration apnea was performed. Six of the climbers did a third apnea and hemoglobin concentration (Hb) was measured. Three axial spleen diameters were measured by ultrasonic imaging before and after the apneas for spleen volume calculation. Mean (standard deviation) baseline spleen volume was larger in Climbers [367 (181) mL] than in Trekkers [228 (70) mL; p?=?0.022]. Spleen contraction occurred during apneas in both groups, with about twice the magnitude in Climbers. Three apneas in six of the Climbers resulted in a spleen volume reduction from 348 (145) to 202 (91) mL (p?=?0.005) and an Hb elevation from 147.9 (13.1) to 153.3 (11.3) g/L (p?=?0.024). Maximal apneic duration was longer in Climbers [88 (23) seconds vs. 67 (18) seconds in Trekkers; p?=?0.023]. We concluded that a large spleen characterizes Climbers, suggesting that spleen function may be important for high-altitude climbing performance.


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