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Case Reports in Medicine
Volume 2016, Article ID 8236845, 4 pages
Case Report

Cardiac Arrest as a Consequence of Air Embolism: A Case Report and Literature Review

1Department of Internal Medicine, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN, USA
2Blue Ridge Pulmonary Associates, Kingsport, TN, USA

Received 12 September 2016; Revised 24 October 2016; Accepted 30 October 2016

Academic Editor: Hiroshi Ishii

Copyright © 2016 Zia Ur Rahman et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Air embolism is an infrequent but potentially catastrophic complication. It could be a complication of invasive procedures including surgery, central line placement, positive pressure ventilation, trauma, hemodialysis, pacemaker placement, cardiac ablation, and decompression sickness. Usually, it does not cause any hemodynamic complication. In rare cases, it could lodge in the heart and cause cardiac arrest. We present a case of an 82-year-old white female who underwent computed tomography (CT) guided biopsy of right lung pulmonary nodule. When she was turned over after the lung biopsy, she became unresponsive and developed cardiopulmonary arrest. She underwent successful resuscitation and ultimately was intubated. CT chest was performed immediately after resuscitation which showed frothy air dense material in the left atrium and one of the right pulmonary veins suggesting a Broncho venous fistula with air embolism. Although very rare, air embolism could be catastrophic resulting in cardiac arrest. Supportive care including mechanical ventilation, vasopressors, volume resuscitation, and supplemental oxygen is the initial management. Patients with cardiac, neurological, or respiratory complications benefit from hyperbaric oxygen therapy.