Carbon dioxide embolism during laparoscopy: effect of insufflation pressure in pigs.

K. Nagao, J. Reichert, David S Beebe, J. M. Fowler, Kumar G Belani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Carbon dioxide embolism is a rare but potentially devastating complication of laparoscopy. To determine the effects of insufflation pressure on the mortality from carbon dioxide embolism, six swine had intravascular insufflation with carbon dioxide for 30 seconds using a Karl Storz insufflator at a flow rate of 35 mL/kg/min. The initial insufflation pressure was 15 mm Hg. Following recovery from the first embolism, intravascular insufflation using a pressure of 20 mm Hg at the same flow rate was performed in the surviving animals. Significantly less carbon dioxide (8.3 +/- 2.7 versus 16.7 +/- 3.9 mL/kg; p < 0.02) was insufflated intravascularly at 15 mm Hg than at 20 mm Hg pressure. All of the pigs insufflated at 15 mm Hg pressure with a flow rate of 35 mL/kg/min survived. In contrast, 4 of the 5 pigs insufflated at 20 mm Hg pressure died. The surviving pig died when insufflated with 25 mm Hg pressure following an embolism of 15.7 mL/kg. Intravascular injection was often associated with an initial rise in end-tidal carbon dioxide tension, followed by a rapid fall in all cases where the embolism proved fatal. Insufflation should be begun with a low pressure and a slow flow rate to limit the volume of gas embolized in the event of inadvertent venous cannulation. Insufflation should immediately be stopped if a sudden change in end-tidal carbon dioxide tension occurs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-96
Number of pages6
JournalJSLS : Journal of the Society of Laparoendoscopic Surgeons / Society of Laparoendoscopic Surgeons
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1999


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