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Paradoxical air embolism following central venous catheter removal
  1. Hiba Khan,
  2. Afzal Zaidi
  1. Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board, Swansea, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Hiba Khan, khanh1{at}


Central venous catheters are commonly used in the management of critically ill patients. This case report described a rare but potentially fatal complication of central venous catheter use. A 52-year-old man underwent mechanical aortic valve replacement for infective endocarditis. On day 8 postoperatively he accidentally removed his catheter and collapsed with symptoms and signs suggestive of a cerebral air embolism. A transthoracic echocardiogram showed air bubbles in both the right and left ventricles of the heart confirming the presence of a paradoxical air embolism.

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