The roentgenographic findings associated with air embolism in sport scuba divers

J Emerg Med. Jul-Aug 1993;11(4):443-9. doi: 10.1016/0736-4679(93)90248-6.

Abstract

Records on all patients with arterial gas embolism (AGE) presenting to UCSD from 1982-1989 and for whom chest radiographs were available were reviewed. Of the 31 patients, 13 roentgenograms (42%) showed evidence of pulmonary barotrauma demonstrated by pneumomediastinum (N = 8), subcutaneous emphysema (N = 3), pneumocardium (N = 2), pneumoperitoneum (N = 1), or pneumothorax (N = 1). Pneumopericardium was not seen. Sixteen (52%) of the 31 patients had pulmonary infiltrates. Radiographic evidence of barotrauma was on occasion subtle, and in four cases was overlooked. Evidence of barotrauma (i.e., extra-alveolar air) was often identified along the left cardiac border, aortic arch, descending aorta, and hilar vessels. Subtle findings of ectopic air can confirm the clinical diagnosis of AGE; however, radiographic evidence of concomitant near drowning occurs more frequently.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Barotrauma / diagnostic imaging*
  • Barotrauma / etiology
  • Diving / injuries*
  • Embolism, Air / diagnostic imaging*
  • Embolism, Air / etiology
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lung Injury*
  • Male
  • Mediastinal Emphysema / diagnostic imaging
  • Mediastinal Emphysema / etiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Radiography
  • Retrospective Studies