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Air embolism: a serious hazard of central venous catheter systems

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Central venous catheter systems are an important yet little recognised source of serious air embolism. Scrupulous care and vigilant observation of this equipment is necessary to prevent the severe cardio-respiratory and neurological sequelae which may occur. Air embolism following central venous catheterisation is one of the most serious complications of this procedure. We describe an unusual and hitherto unreported mechanism by which air accidentally entered the circulation; fortunately in this case there were no serious sequelae.

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Peters, J.L., Armstrong, R., Bradford, R. et al. Air embolism: a serious hazard of central venous catheter systems. Intensive Care Med 10, 261–262 (1984).

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Key words

  • Air embolism
  • Central venous catheter