Possible air embolism during eye surgery

Anesth Analg. 2005 Jun;100(6):1651-1652. doi: 10.1213/01.ANE.0000154304.63828.C0.


We report a case of possible air embolism during a three-port pars plana vitrectomy and air-fluid exchange of the vitreous cavity of the eye. After the start of intraocular air flushing, sudden tachycardia, a decrease in oxygen saturation and end-tidal carbon dioxide tension, and a distinct "mill-wheel" murmur were observed. Venous air embolism was suspected but other sources of air entry into the circulation and a thromboembolic event were excluded. Once intraocular air flushing was ceased, clinical variables returned to normal within minutes. In conclusion, during air-fluid exchange of the vitreous cavity, air embolism should be considered as a possible rare complication.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Blood Gas Analysis
  • Embolism, Air / etiology*
  • Hemodynamics
  • Humans
  • Intraoperative Complications / etiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Monitoring, Intraoperative
  • Ophthalmologic Surgical Procedures*
  • Retinal Detachment / surgery
  • Vitreous Body / surgery