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A 45-year-old member asked:

What happens when you have an air embolism?

2 doctor answers5 doctors weighed in
Dr. Terry Simpson
General Surgery 36 years experience
Nothing usually: The air typically is broken up as it goes through tissues- rare it causes strokes or other issues.
Dr. Geoffrey Rutledge
Internal Medicine 42 years experience
Occasional problems: As dr. Simpson says, usually nothing happens when a small amount of air enters the veins. It is trapped in the lung and absorbed. However, if the amount of air is large, it can block blood flow in the lung. Also, if there is a hole in the heart (atrial septal defect), or a so-called "shunt" of blood that bypasses the lung, air can get into the arteries and cause a stroke.

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Last updated Mar 31, 2019

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