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December 29, 1951

FATAL AIR EMBOLISM IN PREGNANCY

Author Affiliations

Houston, Texas

From the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Baylor University College of Medicine, and Jefferson Davis Hospital.

JAMA. 1951;147(18):1760-1761. doi:10.1001/jama.1951.73670350004010b
Abstract

Air embolism is not an uncommon complication when diagnostic or therapeutic measures using air under pressure are employed. Air embolism also occurs when the air is not under pressure. In either instance there must be a break in the continuity of a vessel, either artery or vein, and the open vessel must contain blood under less pressure than the surrounding air. Of particular interest and concern to the obstetrician are those situations involving the female genital tract that may give rise to air embolism during or shortly following pregnancy.

Forbes1 reported the case of a woman dying suddenly at three months pregnancy apparently after a self-administered douche. Autopsy revealed the right side of the heart and the pulmonary artery to be filled with frothy blood. Deadman2 reported four cases of fatal air embolism in women anywhere from three and one-half to seven months pregnant. In three of these

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