Paradoxical Air Embolism Successfully Treated With Hyperbaric Oxygen

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The use of the central venous catheter may be complicated by air embolism when central venous pressure is subatmospheric and the catheter is open to the surrounding air. Paradoxical air embolus occurs when the gas bubbles are able to traverse a right to left shunt, gaining access to the systemic arterial circulation causing ischemic symptoms in end organs. In this article, a case of a patient with an unknown patent foramen ovale through which air entered the arterial circulation resulting in obtundation and stroke after inadvertent manipulation of a Hickman catheter is presented. The physiology, clinical manifestations, and management strategies are also discussed.

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