What exactly is happening when you inject nothing but air into your body?


Like an empty syringe into your veins.

In: Biology

It’s not as horrible as the tales claim. In a stable healthy patient, it can take as much as 100ml/cc of air to harm you.

The air will diffuse and absorb into the blood as it circulates. When priming IV tubing it isn’t uncommon to have some air trapped in the line. It doesn’t kill people like the stories say. I have personally watched quite a bit of air enter people’s veins through their IVs and not a single issue to follow.

It is best practice to not have air in the tubing, but it does happen.

1. Air will enter your bloodstream, forming a bubble
2. This bubble will move through your veins and end up in your heart
3. The heart will pump this air bubble to your lungs
4. The bubble will lodge in an artery, once the diameter of blood vessels becomes too small for it to move through, leading to a blockage (embolus)
5. All cells supplied by the now-blocked arteriole will have no access to oxygen or glucose. They will begin dying shortly.