Hsiao Chun Teng1, Huei Ming Yeh1*, So Mong Wang2 and Nai Hsin Chi3
1Department of Anesthesiology, National Taiwan University Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan
2Department of Urology, National Taiwan University Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan
3Department of cardiovascular surgery, National Taiwan University Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan
Received: 13 March, 2017; Accepted: 05 July, 2017; Published: 06 July, 2017
Huei Ming Yeh, Department of Anesthesiology, National Taiwan University Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan, Tel: 886223123456; E-mail:
Teng HC, Yeh HM, Wang SM, Chi NH (2017) Massive Carbon Dioxide Embolism during Pneumoperitoneum for Laparoscopic Adrenalectomy. Arch Renal Dis Manag 3(2): 038-040. DOI: 10.17352/2455-5495.000025
© 2017 Teng HC, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Massive carbon dioxide embolism; Laparoscopic adrenalectomy
A 65-year-old man, with suspected right adrenal metastasis from hepatic carcinoma, was scheduled to undergo a laparoscopic right adrenalectomy. About 75 minutes into the operation, when attempting to remove the adrenal gland that was tightly adhesive to the inferior vena cava (IVC), the surgeon accidently nicked the inferior vena cava which resulted in a large tear of about 2 x 2 cm. Considering the difficulty of performing exploratory laparotomy due to previous hepatic tumor excision related intra-abdominal adhesion, the surgeon tried to sow the torn IVC through the use of the laparoscope and to control the bleeding via carbon dioxide (CO2) insufflation pressure. This resulted in a massive amount of gas entering the vessel via the IVC broken hole. When we performed a transesophageal echocardiography (TEE), it was revealed that the right atrium and right ventricle were totally white out because they were full of air. About 20 minutes after the IVC tear, the TEE image also revealed that the left heart also contained scattered air embolisms. The surgeon spent about 60 minutes on repairing the IVC tear. Blood pressure was stable during the IVC tear insult but dropped slightly after the IVC tear repaired. Low dose norepinephrine and dopamine continuous infusion were administered to stabilize the patient’s blood pressure. After the operation, the patient presented mild weakness in his left limbs. Fortunately, the symptoms dissipated two days after the surgery. 12 days later, the patient was discharged without any neurologic sequelae.
Laparoscopy is deemed a “minimally” invasive procedure that allows for exploration through an endoscope of the peritoneal cavity after insufflation of carbon dioxide (CO2) . It has been widely used during many types of surgery. There are a number of advantages compared to open procedure which includes: decreased risk of bleeding, infection, and postoperative pain . However, there are also some complications associated with laparoscopic surgery. For example, the pneumoperitoneum may lead to decreased cardiac output and/or increased systemic vascular resistance. In addition, the Carbon dioxide pneumoperitoneum may cause respiratory acidosis and deep venous thrombosis .
Although CO2 embolisms are rare, they are potentially fetal if they are not diagnosed or treated immediately. This is especially true when the CO2 from the right heart flows into the left heart . Clinically, carbon dioxide embolism can present itself with systemic hypotension, dyspnea, cyanosis, tachycardia or bradycardia, arrhythmia or asystole, elevated pulmonary arterial pressure(PAP), elevated central venous pressure, hypoxemia and increased arterial partial pressure of carbon dioxide, increase or decrease end-tidal carbon dioxide tension . There are case reports about cardiac arrest associated with CO2 embolism during laparoscopic surgery . We are reporting this case of potentially fatal complication of massive CO2 embolism during laparoscope adrenalectomy at our institute. Even the patient had experienced a massive CO2 embolism during the surgery, he discharged without any complication by the twelfth day after the operation.
A 65-year-old man, suspected with right adrenal metastasis, was scheduled to undergo a laparoscopic right adrenalectomy. The patient presented with a history of hepatocellular carcinoma, BCLC stage A. He underwent a hepatic tumor excision 2 years ago, with repeated recurrence. The recurrence hepatic tumors were treated with RFA and TACE. However, following computed tomography scan 3 months ago found suspected right adrenal metastasis. The doctor suggested him to receive a laparoscopic right adrenalectomy. The patient is 167cm tall and weighed 67 kg. His physical examination revealed clear breathing sounds to auscultation and regular heart rate with normal resting blood pressure (112/64 mmHg).
The patient’s preoperative status in the operation room were: blood pressure 141/69 mmHg; pulse 86/min; SaO2% on room air 99%. (Table 1). The patient was preoxygenated with 5 L of oxygen via face mask, and underwent induction with 100 μg of fentanyl, 0.2 mg of glycopyrolate, 250 mg of Citosol, 30mg of propofol and 10mg of cisatracurium IV. Ventilation was set at a tidal volume of 550 ml at the rate of 10-12/min and with FiO2 40-60%. Desflurane was administered to maintain a minimum alveolar concentration (MAC) of 1.0 to 1.2 in combination with 0.5 L of oxygen and 0.5 L of air. After anesthesia, an arterial catheter was inserted into the patient to continuously monitor the patient’s arterial pressure.
The patient was positioned in a left lateral recumbent position. An additional 50 μg fentanyl was administered while the Veress needle was introduced. During the surgery, we began with a high flow of CO2 intra-peritoneal insufflation to achieve an intra-abdominal pressure of 15 mmHg.
During the initial 75 minutes, the patient’s vital signs were stable and the procedure was performed smoothly. However, when attempting to remove the adrenal gland and adrenal tumor which was tightly adhered to the IVC, the surgeon accidently nicked the large inferior vena cava which resulted in a large IVC tear of about 2 x 2 cm. The bleeding from the torn IVC was temporary compressed by the guaze. However we suspect that a massive amount of CO2 entered the vessel via the IVC broken hole. Taking into account the difficulty of performing exploratory laparotomy due to previous hepatic tumor excision related intra-abdominal adhesion, the surgeon tried to sow the torn IVC by the use of laparoscope and to control the bleeding via carbon dioxide (CO2) insufflation pressure. However we suspect that a massive amount of CO2 entered the vessel via the IVC broken hole while the surgeon sow the torn IVC. They spent about 60 minutes on repairing the IVC tear. Blood pressure was stable during the IVC tear insult but dropped slightly after the torn IVC repaired. Systolic blood pressure during the insult was kept at 100~130 mmHg, pulse70~90/min, airway pressure was maintained at 35 mmHg which may be induced by the laparoscope and SPO2% was 100%. However, the end tidal CO2 gradually elevated from 35 mmHg to 53 mmHg. The ventilator respiratory rate was then set higher to wash out CO2.
We then inserted TEE to evaluate the severity of the CO2 embolism while the surgeon tried to fix the IVC tear. Through the TEE image, we noticed that the right atrium and right ventricle were totally white out and full of air (Figure 1). About 20 minutes after IVC tear, the TEE image (Figure 2) also revealed that the left heart also had scattered air embolisms. We then inserted a CVC via the right internal jugular vein, to attempt to drain the CO2 through the CVC, which failed. Sewing the fragile IVC tissue proved difficult, so we consulted cardiac surgeons who were then able to repair the torn IVC. The total massive CO2 influx time was about 60 minutes with continuous 15 mmHg CO2 insufflation pressure. And the total blood loss was about 1250 ml the drop in blood pressure caused by the IVC tear was restored by low dose norepinephrine intermittent bolus (5mcg) and blood transfusion. In total, we infused 2u of pRBC, 2u of whole blood and 12 u of platelet. The blood gas 1hr after the insult showed respiratory acidosis with PH 7.01, PCO2 129%, PO2 75% (FiO2 86%), SaO2 83%. Pulmonary CO2 embolism induced hypercapnia and hypoxemia was under impressed. We suspected pulmonary edema because of the presence of pink bubbled sputum. SPO2 % was also gradually decreased to 93%. The blood gas 3 hours after the insult showed PH 7.1, PCO2 82.9%, PO2 186% (FiO2 85%), SaO2 99%. Post-surgery, the patient was transferred to the ICU with mechanical ventilation to receive further care.
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