Journal of Clinical Monitoring

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 53–56 | Cite as

Detection of venous air embolism by continuous intraarterial oxygen monitoring

  • Garth Greenblott
  • Steven J. Barker
  • Kevin K. Tremper
  • Steven Gerschultz
  • John L. Gehrich
Case Report


In a recent study, we compared a new intraarterial fiberoptic “optode” probe to continuously measure arterial oxygen and carbon dioxide tensions and pH with intermittently drawn blood samples in patients undergoing surgery. In one patient with a diagnosis of Arnold-Chiari type I malformation with outflow obstruction of the fourth ventricle, a major pulmonary air embolism occurred while the patient was undergoing suboccipital craniectomy and cervical laminectomy in the prone position. Three hours after the incision the optode-displayed oxygen tension decreased from a stable value of 225 ±8 mm Hg to 63 mm Hg over a 10-minute period. During the same interval, carbon dioxide tension increased and end-tidal carbon dioxide decreased; shortly thereafter, transcutaneous oxygen tension decreased also. Within 20 minutes after the inspired gas mixture was changed to 100% oxygen, the patient’s respiratory variables returned to near baseline. No further complications ensued. This is the first time continuously monitored arterial oxygen tension values during a pulmonary embolism have been reported. With further refinement, intraarterial optode probes will add another valuable method of detecting pulmonary air embolism.

Key Words

Complications: air embolism Equipment: optodes Monitoring: carbon dioxide oxygen 


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Copyright information

© Little, Brown and Company 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Garth Greenblott
    • 1
  • Steven J. Barker
    • 1
  • Kevin K. Tremper
    • 1
  • Steven Gerschultz
    • 1
  • John L. Gehrich
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of AnesthesiologyUniversity of California, Irvine Medical CenterOrange
  2. 2.Cardiovascular Devices, IncIrvine

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