The fact that the entrance of air into the veins may lead to serious consequences was first observed by Heyden, late in the seventeenth century, but it was not until 1818 that the first authentic record of this accident in man was reported by Beauchêne. Since then the matter has been of great interest, particularly to surgeons and to obstetricians, as most of the reported cases have resulted from operative procedures, especially in the neck, or from the injection of foreign substances into the uterus.
There can be little doubt, as Welch remarks, that many of the cases reported as death from air embolism are based on entirely insufficient evidence. The researches of Welch and Nuttall, and later of Welch and Flexner, on the Bacillus aerogenes capsulatus made it very evident that in future all reports of air embolism must show that the possible action of this gas-forming organism was
THE EFFECT OF THE ENTRANCE OF AIR INTO THE VEINS.. JAMA. 1905;XLIV(16):1283. doi:10.1001/jama.1905.02500430047005
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