Vascular Air Emboli During the Perioperative Period

Ilana R. Fromer, Balazs Horvath, Richard C. Prielipp, Benjamin Kloesel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Purpose of Review: Vascular air embolism is of particular concern to the anesthesiologist. The unique combination of factors encountered during procedures requiring sedation or general anesthesia increases the risk for its occurrence. Air embolism can have devastating consequences and result in morbidity and even mortality. Prevention and early diagnosis are key in mitigating the effects of this event. This manuscript provides a comprehensive review of the current knowledge and new developments in vascular air embolism. Recent Findings: Our understanding of procedures during which vascular air embolism can occur has expanded. Increased implementation of transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) for non-cardiac surgeries has made echocardiography one of the most versatile intraoperative diagnostic methods. Treatment is mostly limited to prevention of further air entrainment, supportive care, and resuscitation. Summary: Vascular air emboli can frequently be prevented using meticulous attention in handling indwelling vascular catheters and surgical technique. If, despite precautions, a vascular air embolus occurs, rapid diagnosis can aid in implementation of actions that prevent further air entrainment, support cardiopulmonary function, and mitigate the effect of the air embolus present in the vascular system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)436-448
Number of pages13
JournalCurrent Anesthesiology Reports
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Complications of invasive procedures
  • Gas embolism
  • Microemboli
  • Venous air embolism (VAE)


Dive into the research topics of 'Vascular Air Emboli During the Perioperative Period'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this