Vascular air embolism (VAE) is an important complication of some routine medical procedures, particularly intravenous access for the administration of fluids or medications. The capillary bed of the pulmonary circulatory system is capable of compensating for small amounts of air entrained into a vein. However, large amounts of air can overwhelm that system and lead to complications ranging from cough, chest pain, or shortness of breath to cardiopulmonary collapse. Additionally, air entrained directly into the arterial system, or that which crosses from the venous system to the arterial system through a shunt can cause the acute coronary syndrome, loss of consciousness, arrhythmias, altered mental status, stroke, or limb ischemia. We present a case in which a patient with a known atrial septal defect had a moderate volume of air entrained through an intravenous catheter requiring hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
Trent JS, Hodgson JK, Ackermann B, Studer NM. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Vascular Air Embolism From Iatrogenic Intravenous Infusion of Air in a Patient With Atrial Septal Defect: A Case Report. Cureus. 2020;12(8):e9554. Published 2020 Aug 4. doi:10.7759/cureus.9554