What are the risk factors for a catheter-related venous air embolism (VAE)?

Updated: Dec 30, 2017
  • Author: Brenda L Natal, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Erik D Schraga, MD  more...
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Answer

A number of factors increase the risk of catheter-related VAE, including the following:

  • Fracture or detachment of catheter connections (accounts for 60-90%) [1, 2]
  • Failure to occlude the needle hub and/or catheter during insertion or removal
  • Dysfunction of self-sealing valves in plastic introducer sheaths
  • Presence of a persistent catheter tract following the removal of a central venous catheter
  • Deep inspiration during insertion or removal, which increases the magnitude of negative pressure
  • Hypovolemia, which reduces central venous pressure
  • Upright positioning of the patient, which reduces central venous pressure

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