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Tuberc Respir Dis (Seoul). 2013 Jun;74(6):286-90. doi: 10.4046/trd.2013.74.6.286. Epub 2013 Jun 25.

Cerebral air embolism following pigtail catheter insertion for pleural fluid drainage.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Hanmaeum Hospital, Changwon, Korea.


Pigtail catheter drainage is a common procedure for the treatment of pleural effusion and pneumothorax. The most common complications of pigtail catheter insertion are pneumothorax, hemorrhage and chest pains. Cerebral air embolism is rare, but often fatal. In this paper, we report a case of cerebral air embolism in association with the insertion of a pigtail catheter for the drainage of a pleural effusion. A 67-year-old man is being presented with dyspnea, cough and right-side chest pains and was administered antibiotics for the treatment of pneumonia. The pneumonia failed to resolve and a loculated parapneumonic pleural effusion developed. A pigtail catheter was inserted in order to drain the pleural effusion, which resulted in cerebral air embolism. The patient was administered high-flow oxygen therapy and recovered without any neurologic complications.


Chest Tubes; Embolism, Air; Pleural Effusion

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