Other Names: Venous air embolism
Nature: Venous air embolism (VAE) is the entry of air into the venous system, as a consequence of trauma or iatrogenic complications (notably surgical procedures where venous structures (veins or venous sinuses) are open to air or when catheters are inserted into veins as in central venous cannulation or pressure infusion of fluids and blood). It has been identified as a component of decompression injury as well. VAE causes the heart to malfunction and pulmonary injury. It is associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Symptomatic VAE following central venous catheterization has mortality as high as 30%.
Incidence: The true incidence of venous air embolism is unknown. Subclinical air embolism in hospitalized patients is possibly quite common. The frequency of clinically recognized VAE following central venous cannulation is less than 2%.
Problem Type: G: Very specific problems
Date of last update 08.03.2001 – 00:00 CET