Massive gas embolism in a child.


Murilo Sérgio Valente-Aguiar


Department of Public Health and Forensic Sciences, and Medical Education, Faculty of Medicine, University of Porto, Alameda Prof. Hernâni Monteiro, Porto, Portugal. [Email]


A 16-month-old girl who was hospitalized with pneumonia and treated with antibiotics died after the nurse erroneously connected her intravenous left forearm catheter to the oxygen supply. Autopsy revealed an impressive gas embolism in the left subclavian and brachiocephalic veins, reduced crepitus and enlarged lung volume, and congestion of the meningeal vessels with some areas showing small air bubbles. Dilation of the right atrium and the right ventricle with efflux under pressure of large amounts of air bubbles were observed. The coronary arteries and veins were filled with air bubbles intercalated with segments containing blood. After exclusion of putrefactive artifacts as the source of such a large amount of gas in the body death was considered to be due to a massive air embolism. While embolisms are well recognized in adults, these cases are only infrequently encountered in forensic practice in younger decedents.


Child,Forensic autopsy,Iatrogenic,Massive gas embolism,Neglect,