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Am J Med Sci. 2013 Jun;345(6):501-3. doi: 10.1097/MAJ.0b013e31827bbe23.

Delayed cerebral air embolism complicating percutaneous needle biopsy of the lung.

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  • 1Department of Respiratory Medicine, Sir Run Run Shaw Hospital, Zhejiang University School of Medicine, Hangzhou, China.


Computed tomography-guided percutaneous needle biopsy of the lung is a common and frequently performed procedure for diagnosis of lung lesions. However, this procedure is not without risks. The major complications include pneumothorax and hemoptysis, which are mild and self-limiting. The rare complications include air embolism, tension pneumothorax, pulmonary hemorrhage, and tumor dissemination, which are severe and life threatening. Cerebral air embolism is a very rare and fatal complication. In previous reports, cerebral air embolism generally occurred during or immediately after lung biopsy. Herein, we present the first case of cerebral infarction secondary to cerebral air embolism 6 hours after computed tomography-guided lung biopsy.

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