Air embolism after intravenous injection of contrast material

South Med J. 1999 Sep;92(9):930-3. doi: 10.1097/00007611-199909000-00019.


Venous air embolism, though considered rare, occurs more frequently than it is recognized. We report the case of a 54-year-old man who was incidentally found to have air in the left brachiocephalic vein and right ventricle after contrast-enhanced computed tomography (CT). Air embolism has been noted to occur after contrast-enhanced CT examination in up to 23% of patients. Because these emboli are small to moderate size and are usually venous, the patients are usually asymptomatic. We review the pathophysiology of air embolization and the recommended treatment.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Contrast Media / administration & dosage
  • Contrast Media / adverse effects*
  • Embolism, Air / diagnosis
  • Embolism, Air / etiology*
  • Embolism, Air / therapy
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intravenous / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed


  • Contrast Media