Fibel KH, Barnes RP, Kinderknecht JJ. Pressurized Intravenous Fluid Administration in the Professional Football Player: A Unique Setting for Venous Air Embolism. Clin J Sport Med. 2015 Jul;25(4):e67-9. Doi: 10.1097/JSM.0000000000000150.
Venous air embolism (VAE) is a potentially life-threatening event that is most commonly associated with certain surgical procedures, although this theoretical complication of pressurized rapid infusion of intravenous (IV) fluids has been described. This series of cases describes 4 athletes who presented with continuous coughing and other chest complaints after peripheral IV infusion of normal saline through manual pressurized infusion. Symptoms resolved within 20 minutes, and these incidences did not interfere with resuming athletic competition with no recurrence of symptoms or complications. These cases are most consistent with varying degrees of VAE and reveal the risk of VAE associated with pressurized peripheral IV fluid administration along with the unique clinical presentation of more modest forms of VAE in an awake patient. Becoming more knowledgeable about IV infusion technique and understanding potential pitfalls can be helpful in reducing future incidences of VAE.