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Gas Embolism Following Bronchoscopic Argon Plasma Coagulation: A Case Series

Chakravarthy Reddy, MD; Adnan Majid, MD; Gaetane Michaud, MD, FCCP; David Feller-Kopman, MD, FCCP; Ralph Eberhardt, MD; Felix Herth, MD, FCCP; Armin Ernst, MD, FCCP
Author and Funding Information

*From Interventional Pulmonology (Drs. Reddy, Majid, Michaud, and Ernst), Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA; Interventional Pulmonology (Dr. Feller-Kopman), Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, MD; and Department of Pulmonary Medicine (Drs. Eberhardt and Herth), Thoraxklinik, Heidelberg, Germany.

Correspondence to: Armin Ernst, MD, FCCP, Chief, Interventional Pulmonology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, One Deaconess Rd, Boston, MA 02115; e-mail: aernst@bidmc.harvard.edu


The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians (www.chestjournal.org/misc/reprints.shtml).


Chest. 2008;134(5):1066-1069. doi:10.1378/chest.08-0474
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Thermal ablation using argon plasma coagulation (APC) is a commonly used modality in the bronchoscopic management of central airway obstruction and hemoptysis. In experienced hands, APC is considered to be a relatively safe tool. Reported complications associated with APC use are rare and include hemorrhage, airway perforation, or airway fires. Systemic gas embolism has been reported with APC during laparoscopic hepatic surgeries, and we have reported one case of systemic gas embolism with cardiovascular collapse in the past. We now report the first case series of systemic, life-threatening gas embolism occurring as a complication of bronchoscopic application of APC.

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