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Acta Anaesthesiol Scand. 2008 Apr;52(4):566-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-6576.2008.01598.x.

Iatrogenic systemic air embolism treated with hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

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Department of Anaesthesia, Abdominal Center, Copenhagen University Hospital Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark.


Air embolism is a rare and potentially severe complication of surgical and invasive procedures. Emboli large enough to produce symptoms require immediate treatment because of the risk of 'gas lock' in the right side of the heart and subsequent circulatory failure. If air is transmitted to the arterial circulation through a shunt, it may cause cerebral emboli with neurological symptoms. We present two cases with venous air emboli and concurrent cerebral arterial emboli. Both patients were successfully treated with hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

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