Air embolism differential diagnosis

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]


Air embolism has a similar presentation to many other systemic conditions. Suspect an air embolism in patients with a history of:

  • recent invasive procedures
  • deep sea diving

Differentiating Air embolism from Other Diseases

  • Air embolism must be differentiated from other diseases that cause dyspnea, joint and muscle pain, and mental status changes, such as[1]
  • Pulmonary emboli
  • Myocardial Infarction/Acute coronary syndrome [2]
  • Stroke
  • Cardiogenic shock


  1. Nissar Shaikh & Firdous Ummunisa (2009). "Acute management of vascular air embolism". Journal of emergencies, trauma, and shock. 2 (3): 180–185. doi:10.4103/0974-2700.55330. PMID 20009308. Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  2. C.-M. Chao, W.-L. Liu, C.-F. Hsieh & C.-C. Lai (2016). "Pulmonary air embolism". QJM : monthly journal of the Association of Physicians. 109 (4): 283–284. doi:10.1093/qjmed/hcv226. PMID 26742568. Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)

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