Cerebral Air Embolism: The Importance of Computed Tomography Evaluation

Catarina Brito, Joana Graca, Pedro Vilela


Cerebral air embolism (CAE) is a serious disease, often underdiagnosed due to nonspecific neurological findings and clinical and imaging unawareness. Early diagnosis is crucial for a prompt specific treatment, which differs from other types of brain infarcts. Immediate computed tomography (CT) scan is the imaging technique of choice, allowing to depict acute intracranial air, most commonly seen in the high convexity along cortical grooves, in a sulcal subarachnoid gyriform pattern. The use of thin-slice (thickness of 5 mm or smaller) and the measurement of air attenuation coefficient can reduce false-negative studies. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is the first-line treatment for CAE and may affect the outcome. We report four cases of iatrogenic CAE and review the literature.

J Med Cases. 2020;11(12):394-399
doi: https://doi.org/10.14740/jmc3583


Cerebral air embolism; Central venous catheter; Hyperbaric oxygen therapy

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