Air embolism refers to bubbles in the arterial or venous circulation.
Venous bubbles can be the result of compressed gas diving (such as scuba diving), but they often leak through the pulmonary capillary bed. if a large volume of bubbles is observed, they can overwhelm the pulmonary filter and enter the arterial circulation. Arterial gas emboli (AGE) can also be the result of pulmonary barotrauma or accidental injection of intravenous air or some surgical procedures.
Symptoms generally occur within seconds to minutes after the event and can include loss of consciousness, confusion, neurological deficits, cardiac arrhythmias, or cardiac arrest.
The treatment of choice is recompression therapy, the reason for which is that the greater volume of gas justified greater pressure to force the redistribution or elimination of the bubbles.