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Medline ® Abstract for Reference 76

of 'Rare complications of endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)'

Pulseless electrical activity arrest due to air embolism during endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography: a case report and review of the literature.
Mathew J Jr, Parker C 3rd, Wang J
BMJ Open Gastroenterol. 2015;2(1):e000046. Epub 2015 Jun 24.
While most gastroenterologists are aware of the more common complications of endoscopy such as bleeding, infection and perforation, air embolism remains an under-recognised and difficult to diagnose problem due to its varying modes of presentation. This is the case of a 55-year-old man with right upper quadrant pain and imaging notable for cholecystitis and choledocholithiasis, who underwent endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP). During the ERCP, and shortly after a sphincterotomy was performed, he became hypotensive and hypoxic, quickly decompensating into pulseless electrical activity. While advanced cardiac life support was initiated, the patient passed away. Autopsy revealed air in the pulmonary artery suggestive of a pulmonary embolism. While air embolism remains a rare complication of upper endoscopy, increased awareness and prompt recognition of signs that may point to this diagnosis may potentially save lives by allowing for earlier possible interventions.
Department of Medicine , Tripler Army Medical Center , Honolulu, Hawaii , USA.