An air embolism occurs when there is gas bubble formation in the blood. The gas bubbles travel in the bloodstream to the lungs where they become trapped in the pulmonary veins. This often leads to inflammation of the pulmonary blood vessels (pulmonary edema) and obstruction of blood flow through the heart. This can also cause inflammation of the brain (cerebral edema), stroke, or heart failure. Risk factors include SCUBA diving, surgery, administration of intravenous fluids (IV), IV lines placed in the jugular are subclavian veins, penetrating lung injury, or mechanical ventilation.
Symptoms of Air Embolism
Symptoms of an air embolism include headache, shortness of breath, chest pain, drop in blood pressure (hypotension) and possibly seizure, coma or death.
Treating Air Embolism or Treatment of Air Embolism
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is recommended because it works to directly remove nitrogen from the air bubbles in the blood stream and improve oxygenation. Treatment should be provided immediately, however; some studies show improvement up to thirty hours after injury.