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August 5, 1950


Author Affiliations

Charleston, S. C.

From the Medical College of the State of South Carolina and Roper Hospital.

JAMA. 1950;143(14):1250-1251. doi:10.1001/jama.1950.82910490010008

Although air embolism is relatively rare, more frequent recognition of the condition has followed understanding of better established physiologic concepts. Fundamentally, the two types of air embolism are pulmonary (venous) and arterial. Arterial embolism results from the entrance of air into the left side of the heart from the pulmonary veins or through septal defects, usually patent foramen ovale. The air bubbles escape into the systemic arteries, and the clinical manifestations depend on the site of arterial occlusion. Since this type of embolism does not apply to the case reported herein, it will not be considered further. In pulmonary (venous) embolism air enters a systemic vein and is carried to the right side of the heart. Here the churning action of the heart on the blood and air forms "blood foam." This foam may either remain in the heart or pass into the pulmonary arteries. The amount of obstruction in