Cerebral air embolism after indwelling pleural catheter insertion in a chronic hydropneumothorax secondary to epithelioid mesothelioma

BMJ Case Reports 2021 July 29 [Link]

Dissanayake Mudiyanselage Chanaka Jayawardena, Rakesh K Panchal, Sanjay Agrawal, Indrajeet Das


A 75-year-old man with a history of epithelioid mesothelioma and a right-sided indwelling pleural catheter (IPC) presented with a history of a purulent fluid drainage via the IPC. The pleural fluid cultured Klebsiella oxytoca and Enterococcus faecalis He was treated with a course of oral fluoroquinolone followed by uneventful IPC replacement. One and half hours postprocedure, the patient had a witnessed drop in conscious level accompanied by seizure like activity. Acute stroke was suspected and a CT head was performed. CT head revealed multiple serpiginous pockets of air along the cerebral fissure, with features that were highly suggestive of cerebral air embolism and multiple wedge-shaped areas of infarction involving the cerebral hemispheres. Further imaging revealed satisfactory position of the replaced IPC. The patient was admitted to the intensive care unit for high flow oxygen therapy and head down ventilation. However, his condition deteriorated and he died later.