Air embolism, with the pulmonary vein as the portal of entry, may complicate nearly any surgical procedure on the lung. Graham1 experienced two fatalities from this source in forty-five operations of cautery pneumectomy, and it has occurred in as simple a procedure as irrigation of an empyema cavity. Brauer2 termed the condition arterial air embolism and emphasized its frequence as a complication of artificial pneumothorax. While the cause of the syncope, collapse and death that are occasionally seen during pneumothorax induction is not always clear, it is doubtless often air embolism. Stivelman3 reported seven instances occurring in 162 primary punctures; Forlanini4 had twelve in 134, and Sachs5 collected twenty-two in 1,122 from the literature.
Sharp distinction must be made at once between this form of air embolism and that in which air enters a peripheral vein, as the jugular or subclavian. In the former, air