A rare interesting case of fatal air embolism after intravenous contrast during computed tomography


  • Naved Y. Hasan Department of Intensive Care, King Abdullah Medical City, Muzdalifah Road, Al Mashaer, Makkah, Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia
  • Asiah Salem Rugaan Department of Intensive Care, King Abdullah Medical City, Muzdalifah Road, Al Mashaer, Makkah, Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia




air embolism, pulseless electrical activity, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, shock, mortality


We are reporting a fatal case of air embolism. Although minor cases of air embolism may go unnoticed, this is a case of fatal air embolism after intravenous entry of air, which presented with sudden onset of pulseless electrical activity during a computed tomography scan in the radiology department, requiring cardiopulmonary resuscitation for 15 min. Subsequently, after admission to the intensive care unit, we achieved return of spontaneous circulation. The patient was intubated and ventilated in a shock state. He remained in refractory shock despite of supportive care. Cardiaс arrest was registered again in the catheterization lab and the patient could not be revived after 4 h from the initial cardiac arrest. А computed tomography scan was reported to reveal a significant amount of intra-cardiac air, which was the likely cause patient’s death. The case is a rare condition, which highlights the importance of early diagnosis and delivers a message to the medical staff to have a high index of suspicion in patients who have risk factors, and who develop sudden shock with hypoxemia, in order to treat this potentially life-threatening condition effectively in a timely manner.


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