Venous Air Embolism

Principal investigator(s):


VAE is a clinical entity characterized by air unintentionally entering the venous circulation, causing mechanical occlusion of the bloodstream – often at the outlet of the right ventricle. VAE may travel into the systemic- or arterial circulation – even without the presence of a persistent foramen ovale. There seems to be a relationship between amount of venous air and the incidence of arterial embolism. VAE is probably under- or misdiagnosed, since the symptoms mimic other conditions such as deep venous thrombosis (DVT) with pulmonary embolism (PE), “Bone implantation syndrome”, anaphylaxis, myocardial infarction and bronchospasm. VAE can trigger a systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS), with subsequent organ damage. The exact mechanism, however, remains unknown.

This project originated from clinical observations at Nordland Hospital where several females during gynecological surgery suffered from VAE, a serious complication to surgery. We aim to reveal novel insights into the pathophysiological processes of this condition.


Schjalm, Camilla Chief medical laboratory technologist
Christiansen, Dorte Medical laboratory technologist
Emblem, Åse Chief medical laboratory technologist
Ludviksen, Judith A.K. Medical laboratory technologist
Pettersen, Kristin Medical laboratory technologist