Severe pulmonary oedema after venous air embolism

  • Kwok K. Lam
  • Robert C. Hutchinson
  • Tony Gin
Clinical Reports


We present a 59-yr-old Chinese male patient who developed acute pulmonary oedema and cardiovascular collapse following multiple episodes of venous air emboli while in the sitting position for removal of a cervical meningioma. The severity of the pulmonary oedema and cardiovascular disturbance were surprising. Postoperative ventilation and inotropic support were required and five litres of plasma were needed to replace the fluid lost as pulmonary oedema. We discuss the differential diagnosis of the pulmonary changes and review current ideas on the pathogenesis for pulmonary oedema following venous air embolism.

Key words

anaesthesia: neurosurgical anaesthetic technique, general: position, sitting embolism: air lung: oedema 


Un patient de 59 ans d’origine chinoise développe une oedème pulmonaire aigu et un collapsus vasculaire à la suite d’une série d’embolies gazeuses veineuses pulmonaires survenues pendant l’excision d’un méningiome cervical en position assise. La gravité de l’oedème pulmonaire et de ses conséquences hémodynamiques sont inhabituels et nécessitent la ventilation mécanique postopératoire et une médication inotrope. Cinq litres de plasma sont requis pour remplacer la perte de liquide par oedème pulmonaires. Nous discutons du diagnostic différentiel des affections pulmonaires et des théories actuelles sur la pathogenèse de l’oedème pulmonaire causé par l’embolie gazeuse.


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Copyright information

© Canadian Anesthesiologists 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kwok K. Lam
    • 1
    • 2
  • Robert C. Hutchinson
    • 1
    • 2
  • Tony Gin
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Anaesthesia and Intensive CareThe Chinese University of Hong KongShatin
  2. 2.Department of Anaesthesia and Intensive CarePrince of Wales HospitalN.T.Hong Kong

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