A 54 yr old man experienced weakness in his legs, ataxia and subsequent urinary retention after a percutaneous fine-needle aspiration of a tumor in the right lower lobe. Clinical neurological examination and electroencephalography revealed signs of a brain stem lesion, probably due to an air embolism to the basilar artery. The symptoms and signs gradually disappeared prior to, as well as after, hyperbaric oxygen treatment. We believe this to be the first case of air embolism after transthoracic puncture with a 23 gauge needle to be reported in medical literature.

Omenaas, Moerkve, Thomassen, Daehlin, Larsen, Eidsvik, Gulsvik, , (1989). Cerebral air embolism after transthoracic aspiration with a 0.6 mm (23 gauge) needle. The European respiratory journal, 1989 Oct;2(9):908-10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2806518