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Author Topic: Death by air bubble
snopes
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Comment: Me and a friend were watching a movie the other day. The villian
had taken somebody hostage, and was holding a syringe filled with poisen
to their neck, threatening to inject it if anyone came any closer. My
friend said this was silly, "because everybody knows, all you have to do
is inject air into someones bloodstream, and that'll kill 'em".

Ok, I would imagine that if you injected a massive amount of air they
could possibly die, but 10 CC's?

Sounds like complete bunkum to me. What do you know on the subject?

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BluesScale
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In the wrong place, yes. Air embolisms are not that uncommon and are sometimes the preferred way for medical staff to euthanize a patient who would other face a more distressing death. It is untraceable and doesn’t require booking out drugs or falsifying “breakages”

Please note: I am not against this practice and hope for the kindness of a medical professional should I need it. I have seen too many slow deaths to want one.

Blues

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mizzie
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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I had heard this one before and took it with a grain of salt But I admit when I was in the hospital with an IV and I saw air bubbles in the IV tube, I was worried. I asked the nurse about it (trying to seem off-hand, "hey, should there be air bubbles in there?") and she said it would take more then the whole tube full of air at once to do any harm and the bubbles (sometimes a few inches of the tube) wouldn't hurt anything. She also said I wasn't the first to ask about it.

Since I am still alive to post this, I'd have to say she was right. I'm sure a lot of air could do some serious harm, but it's not like you hear. (I had heard that even the tiniest bubble would kill you) My guess would be the closer to the heart it's injected, the worse it would be. But that's just a guess.

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Soft Hyphen
I Saw Three Shipments


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It's true that injecting air into the bloodstream can be fatal, but if I'm picturing the scene correctly (was this move Terminator 2, by the way?) a syringe to the neck is not guaranteed to discharge its contents into a blood vessel. A sufficiently potent poison will work no matter where in the body it is injected (muscle, fat, organ) although the death may be slower and much more painful.
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BluesScale
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Depends where the air goes. In muscle tissue? Not too bad since there are multiple blood supplies. The brain? Just the one, the Carotid artery. Block that and you have a stroke. Block it fully and the brain dies.

Hope that helps

Blues

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Nick Theodorakis
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Can an IV Air Bubble Kill Someone?

Nick

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BluesScale
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But if I inject in to the carotid the the bubble does not go through the heart or lungs - arteries supply, veins take. So, you get an air lock.

I respectly disagree with the cite.

Blues "I am not a doctor but common sense suggests..." Scale

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Roofus
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When I was in the hospital a couple years ago, I expressed the concern to one of the nurses (I could see that there was air in the IV line) and she said that she once saw a patient take a whole line's worth of air to no ill effect. FWIW, I was injected with quite a bit of air during my hospitalization (I had a rather nasty infection in my left leg and was getting injected, poked, prodded, etc quite a bit) and it didn't harm me at all.
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BluesScale
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Then I guess that I have to agree that injecting at least small amounts of air is not universally fatal.

Do you think that we can get funding for a proper study with volunteers? No, I didn't think so either. Perhaps just as well

Blues

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Troberg
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quote:
was this move Terminator 2, by the way?
The Osterman Weekend also did it, in fact, it was the start of the entire plot.

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/Troberg

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ParaDiddle
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On a related note, is something I heard when I wore a younger man's clothes. This is in the category of "something told to me by a FOAF and supported by a TV/Magazine/Newspaper report I saw somewhere". Therefore, it is absolutely true.

A woman can suffer a fatal embolism while recieving oral sex if her lover blows air into her vagina.

- P

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Felessan
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In Milton Helpern's "Where Death Delights" (I think - my crime science books are lent out at the moment) there's a chapter in which he states that the syringe-of-air method of killing is simply overrated, or something like that. Full cite to come - when I can retrieve my copy.

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deflowerkid
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I work in a hospital, and happened to ask a cardiologist one day if this legend were true. He said, absolutely not. It would take liters and liters of air for this to kill someone in the carotids, at least. So...I don't believe it.

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