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Air Embolism on Cardiopulmonary Bypass 

Air Embolism on Cardiopulmonary Bypass
Air Embolism on Cardiopulmonary Bypass

Aaron Hudson

, and Ryan Hood

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date: 23 October 2019

The danger associated with air embolism in cardiac surgery has been well established for over 125 years. In the first volume of Annals of Surgery, published in 1885, long preceding the era of cardiac surgery and the use of extracorporeal circulatory techniques, Dr. Nicholas Senn alluded to the ensuing calamity caused by air embolism: “I intend on this occasion to call your attention to one of the most dreaded and, I may add, one of the most uncontrollable causes of sudden death—I allude to air-embolism.”1,2 Since the advent of modern cardiac surgery, much attention has been focused on the prevention of air embolism by cardiac surgeons, anesthesiologists, and perfusionists alike. Indeed, all three team members are critically responsible for the safe conduct of thousands of cardiac surgical procedures occurring on a daily basis worldwide. While the morbidity and mortality of massive air embolism is exceedingly high, most believe that with appropriate training and unwavering vigilance during clinical practice, almost all massive air emboli can be prevented.3

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