A four-year-old dachshund was admitted for progressive para-paresis. The dog had no signs of cardiovascular disease, and cardiac auscultation was unremarkable. The dog was anaesthetised for MRI and subsequently hemilaminectomy. During surgery, drops in blood pressure and end-tidal carbon dioxide were observed concurrent to surgical site haemorrhage. At this time, a rumbling/churning ‘millwheel’-type cardiac murmur was detected via an oesophageal stethoscope. Other anomalies, such as arrhythmias and tachypnoea, were also observed. The planned surgery was shortened and the dog made a full uneventful recovery. The heart murmur audible externally immediately after recovery, disappeared over the following 12 hours. The events reported are compatible with the occurrence of a venous air embolism (VAE). Review of the literature indicates that subclinical VAE might be more frequent than usually believed, as precursor signs might be tenuous and non-evocative of VAE. Awareness of this potentially life-threatening complication should be raised.
- Adverse event
- Vascular air embolism
- Received June 9, 2014.
- Revision received August 21, 2014.
- Accepted September 11, 2014.
- British Veterinary Association
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