Between October 6,1986 and September 17,1987, 11 patients underwent insertion of mandibular dental prostheses by the same oral surgeon. Three patients suffered cardiac arrest during surgery and subsequently died. Two of the patients who died had received general anaesthetics and the other had intravenous sedation given by three different anaesthetists. All three patients arrested suddenly, developing profound cyanosis and electrical mechanical dissociation, underwent prolonged resuscitative efforts, and had marked hypoxaemia and hypercapnia, despite cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Two other patients had signs of injection of air but survived, one suffering cardiac collapse and the other sustaining massive subcutaneous emphysema. Air embolism was produced by inadvertent injection of a mixture of air and water, passing through the hollow dental drill, directly into the mandible to the facial and pterygoidplexus veins and thence to the superior vena cava and right atrium.
To find out more visit http://www.cja-jca.org/cgi/reprint/37/1/112.pdf