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Current therapy for massive venous air embolism (VAE) includes the use of the left lateral recumbent (LLR) position. This recommendation is based on animal studies, conducted 50 yr ago, which looked primarily at survival. Little is known, however, about the concomitant hemodynamic response after VAE in various body positions. The purpose of this study was to investigate the hemodynamic and cardiovascular changes in various body positions after VAE. Twenty-two mechanically ventilated supine mongrel dogs received a venous air infusion of 2.5 mL/kg at a rate of 5 mL/s. One minute after the infusion, 100% oxygen ventilation was commenced and the body position of the dogs was changed to either the LLR (n = 6), the LLR with the head 10[degrees] down (LLR-10[degrees] n = 6) or the right lateral recumbent (RLR; n = 5) position. Five dogs were maintained in the supine position (SUP; n = 5). One dog died in every group except in the SUP group, where all the dogs recovered. There were no significant differences among the various body positions in terms of heart rate, mean arterial pressure, pulmonary artery pressure, central venous pressure, left ventricular end-diastolic pressure, or cardiac output. The acute hemodynamic changes occurring during the first 5-15 min after VAE recovered to 80% of control within 60 min. Our data suggest that body repositioning does not influence the cardiovascular response to VAE. Specifically, our data do not support the recommendation of repositioning into the LLR position for the treatment of VAE.

(C) 1994 International Anesthesia Research Society