The Australian Incident Monitoring Study. Air embolism–an analysis of 2000 incident reports
Williamson JA, Webb RK, Russell WJ, Runciman WB. The Australian Incident Monitoring Study. Air embolism–an analysis of 2000 incident reports. Anaesth Intensive Care. 1993 Oct;21(5):638-41.
There were 19 cases of air embolism (1%) among the first 2000 incidents reported to the Australian Incident Monitoring Study. No embolism-induced fatalities were reported. Serious acute systemic effects occurred in 14 incidents; one circulatory arrest required electrical counter-shock. The surgical field was the entry route for the air in 63% of the incidents; 47% of the cases occurred during head and neck surgery. Capnography was the most successful first detector (26%) and it confirmed the diagnosis in another 26%. Invasive blood pressure monitoring, the electrocardiograph and the pulse oximeter played a useful role in detecting and/or confirming air embolism. Doppler monitoring was not reported in this series. A successful first response for management included head-down posture, manual ventilation, 100% oxygen and control of the air entry site. Cerebral arterial gas embolism may induce vascular endothelial damage and possible delayed neurological sequelae; hyperbaric oxygen therapy should be considered.