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Air embolism during anaesthesia for shoulder arthroscopy.

We report a case of venous air embolism during an elective shoulder arthroscopy in which air was used as a joint distending agent. Venous air embolism was diagnosed by the sudden decrease in the end-tidal carbon dioxide concentration. The patient suffered no serious complications of venous air embolism and made a full recovery. We present this case to make surgeons and anaesthetists aware of the possibility of gas/air embolism during elective arthroscopy, when gas/air is used to distend the joint. This case also illustrates that the end-tidal carbon dioxide monitor, which is part of the standard anaesthetic monitoring system, is very sensitive in detecting venous air embolism.

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