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August 19, 1939


JAMA. 1939;113(8):671-673. doi:10.1001/jama.1939.72800330001010

Air embolism in obstetrics was first considered in 1829, when it was thought that the entrance of air into the uterine sinuses and veins might be a source of danger in recently delivered women. Two English physicians, Cormack in 1850 and George May in 1851, each reported three cases of air embolism following delivery. Since that time several instances of air embolism have been recorded which occurred during the performance of criminal abortion, during the use of uterine douches to loosen adherent retained placental tissue and after normal spontaneous deliveries. Patients with placenta praevia and bleeding during the latter half of pregnancy have been treated with an attempt at version and, at about the time the foot was drawn through the cervical canal, they have collapsed and died. The only cause of death to be found on the postmortem examination was air embolism.1

In recent literature we have found