Air embolism - Definition

March 2017


Definition


An embolism is a sudden interruption of a liquid circulating in the body, blood or lymph, by a foreign body. An air embolism is a rare and accidental phenomenon. It is due to the presence of gas bubbles, usually air, in the bloodstream. The gas can enter the bloodstream during surgery, trauma, or an injection of blood. An air embolism is also a well-known incident in the world of scuba diving during a sudden return to the surface caused by nitrogen bubbles: this is called decompression sickness. This air embolism can cause cardiac or neurological complications depending on the area where the embolism is located. Its occurrence is serious and requires immediate treatment based on CPR and hyperbaric oxygenation, meaning at high pressure.

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