[abstract] FATAL CEREBRAL AIR EMBOLISM IN FREE SWIMMER

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[abstract] FATAL CEREBRAL AIR EMBOLISM IN FREE SWIMMER

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Title: [abstract] FATAL CEREBRAL AIR EMBOLISM IN FREE SWIMMER
Author: Bayne, CG; Wurzbacher, T
Abstract: A case report of a fatal cerebral air embolism in a free swimmer is presented. This is the first reported case, although this possibility as cause for drowning was suggested in 1906. Cadaver studies have shown that a gradient of only 95-110 cm H2O is required to rupture the lung, with similar results produced in the guinea pig, rat and dog. Our patient took a maximum breath, entered the water, and swam at a depth of four feet (122 cm H2O), stood straight up and immediately reported symptoms of headache, dizziness ad nausea. Within 15 minutes the patient had vomited, seized and become clinically dead. During Advanced Cardiac Life Support, arterial blood gases showed lack of cardiac output, consistent with right ventricular froth found on postmortem. Further findings at postmortem included mediastinal emphysema and massive intravascular air in the cerebral vessels. This case report is important in view of the over 7,000 drownings each year, many of which are associated with a lucid interval between surfacing and collapse. Perhaps many of these "post-immersion" syndromes represent air embolism. If a recompression chamber is not available and there is evidence of poor cardiac output on the basis of arterial blood gases, one should consider performing a left thoracotomy and subsequent manual cardiac massage. This has been effective in removing ventricular air in cases where closed chest massage has failed.
Description: Abstract of the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society, Inc. Annual Scientific Meeting held May 25-29, 1981. The Asilomar Conference Center, Pacific Grove, California (http:www.uhms.org)
URI: http://archive.rubicon-foundation.org/4535
Date: 1981

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  • UHMS Meeting Abstracts
    This is a collection of the published abstracts from the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS) annual meetings.

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