What the incidence of venous air embolism (VAE) due to cesarean delivery and laparoscopy surgery?

Updated: Dec 30, 2017
  • Author: Brenda L Natal, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Erik D Schraga, MD  more...
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Obstetric/gynecologic procedures (cesarean delivery) and laparoscopic surgeries each carry their own risk for VAE. Although this risk is commonly not considered, they each have a reported associated incidence risk of VAE greater than 50%. [1]  The risk of VAE during cesarean deliveries may be highest when the uterus is exteriorized. The risk of VAE in laparoscopic surgery may require an inadvertent opening of vascular channels through surgical manipulation rather than simply resulting from a complication of insufflation.

Both of these surgical procedures have been associated with intraoperative mortality as a direct sequelae of air emboli. [1, 26, 27, 28]  Despite this, the potential for venous air embolism is often ignored in laparoscopic surgery and cesarean delivery.

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