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A Gamow bag (pronounced Gam-Off) is an inflatable pressure bag large enough to accommodate a person inside. A patient can be placed inside the bag which is sealed and inflated with a foot pump. Within minutes, the effective altitude can be decreased by 1000 to as much as 3000 meters (3281 to 9743 feet) depending on the elevation. The bag is pressurized to 105-220 mm, pressure gradient is regulated by pop-off valves set to the target pressure. It is primarily used for treating severe cases of altitude sickness, high-altitude cerebral edema, and high-altitude pulmonary edema. Like office-based hyperbaric medicine, the Gamow bag uses increased partial pressure of oxygen for therapy of hypobaric injury, but it has the advantage of being portable for field use. Patients typically are treated in 1-hour increments and then are reevaluated.
The Gamow bag was named after its inventor, Dr. Igor Gamow, son of George Gamow. Dr. Gamow originally designed a predecessor to the gamow bag called "The Bubble" to study the effect of high altitude on stamina and performance in athletes. Dr. Gamow later re-designed 'The Bubble' into a bag that could be used in the high-altitude wilderness.
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