Hyperbaric oxygen treatment for air or gas embolism.
Gas can enter arteries (arterial gas embolism) due to alveolar-capillary disruption (caused by pulmonary overpressurization, e.g., breath-hold ascent by divers) or veins (venous gas embolism, VGE) as a result of tissue bubble formation due to decompression (diving, altitude exposure) or during certain surgical procedures where capillary hydrostatic pressure at the incision site is sub-atmospheric. Both AGE and VGE can be caused by iatrogenic gas injection. AGE usually produces strokelike manifestations, such as impaired consciousness, confusion, seizures and focal neurological deficits. Small amounts of VGE are often tolerated due to filtration by pulmonary capillaries. However, VGE can cause pulmonary edema, cardiac "vapor lock" and AGE due to transpulmonary passage or right-to-left shunt through a patent foramen ovale. Intravascular gas can cause arterial obstruction or endothelial damage and secondary vasospasm and capillary leak. Vascular gas is frequently not visible with radiographic imaging, which should not be used to exclude the diagnosis of AGE. Isolated VGE usually requires no treatment; AGE treatment is similar to decompression sickness (DCS), with first aid oxygen then hyperbaric oxygen. Although cerebral AGE (CAGE) often causes intracranial hypertension, animal studies have failed to demonstrate a benefit of induced hypocapnia. An evidence-based review of adjunctive therapies is presented.
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