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air embolism

noun
1.
the presence in the tissues and blood of a gas, such as air or nitrogen bubbles, caused by an injection of air or, in the case of nitrogen, by an abrupt and substantial reduction in the ambient pressure See decompression sickness
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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air embolism in Medicine

air embolism n.
Bubbles of air in the heart or vascular system that create an obstruction and are usually the result of surgery or trauma.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Encyclopedia Article for air embolism

blockage of an artery or vein by an air bubble. Air can be introduced into the blood vessels during surgery or traumatic accidents. One type of traumatic embolization occurs when lung tissue is ruptured; bubbles of air pass from the alveoli (air sacs) of the lungs into nearby capillaries and veins. The air bubbles are then carried into the heart, where, if trapped, they can cause myocardial infarction, the destruction of tissue in the heart muscle; usually, however, the air rises to the brain. The consequent blockage of vessels carrying blood to the brain starves this tissue of its vital blood supply. Nervous tissue becomes irreversibly damaged after about five minutes of oxygen and nutritional starvation; convulsions, unconsciousness, respiratory difficulties, and death may ensue.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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