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Thread: How Much Air is Needed (to cause death)

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    NaughtyNurse's Avatar
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    How Much Air is Needed (to cause death)

    I thought this would be worthwhile as I often see questions about how much air it will take to cause death...and many people are convinced it is only a couple of mL's. This also describes simply and briefly the anatomy of the vessels and flow of circulation to make death by air (air embolism) possible.

    SCIENCE IN CRIME DETECTION
    DEATH BY AIR INJECTION

    Dr. Anil Aggrawal


    Technically known as cases of "air embolism". The word embolism comes from Greek en, "in," and ballein, "to throw or cast". Henceforth we will be using the term "air embolism".

    Before telling anything further about death by air embolism, let us first understand a little bit about the way our blood circulates in our body. This is very essential to understand how a person is killed by injection of air. Our heart is comprised of 4 chambers. There are two chambers on the right and two on the left side. The chambers on the right side are known as right atrium and right ventricle, while the chambers on the left side are known as left atrium and left ventricle. Bad blood (deoxygenated) from legs, head, arms and in fact from every part of the body returns to the upper right chamber called the right atrium.

    With each contraction of the heart the right atrium sends this bad blood to the right ventricle. The right ventricle, in turn, sends this blood to the lungs via pulmonary arteries. Do not let the complicated names baffle you. Just remember that atrium and ventricles are fancy sounding names of some chambers of the heart. Ventricle is a larger chamber than atrium. Also keep in mind that "artery" is the name of a conduit which takes the blood away from the heart while vein is the name of a conduit which brings blood to the heart. The word pulmonary comes from Latin pulmo, "the lung". Thus "pulmonary artery" refers to a conduit which takes the blood away from the heart towards the lung.

    In the lung, the bad blood is purified (oxygenated). This is done by the help of the air which we breathe all the time. The pure blood is returned to the heart via pulmonary veins. The blood comes in the third chamber of the heart known as left atrium. Left atrium sends this blood to the left ventricle, which in turn, pumps this pure blood to the whole body via a very big conduit known as the aorta. The body organs use this pure blood, and when this blood becomes impure, it is once again returned to the right atrium. And thus the circulation goes on.
    Now we are ready to understand how air embolism works. First of all we must appreciate that nature has made this whole system of circulation air-proof. This means that there is no way, air could enter this system of conduits and pipes. If somehow air could enter the system (such as by injection of plain air through a syringe), the air will form an "air lock" within the system. This "air lock" is quite familiar to plumbers and owners of diesel engines, where the normal flow of liquid through tubes is wholly or partially blocked by air. Quite in the same manner this air lock blocks the flow of blood through the arteries and veins, thus bringing the circulation to a halt. Let us make this a little more clear.

    Air could be made to enter the circulation either through the arteries or through the veins. When an injection of air is given, the air bubbles start travelling towards the right atrium. From right atrium they keep travelling onwards till they come to the lung. Here the capillaries are too narrow to allow the big bubbles to pass. The result is that these bubbles get entangled in the blood vessels of the lung. The whole blood traffic stops and the person dies very quickly. In fact this bad blood can not be purified by the lungs, because the traffic of blood towards the lungs has been stopped. The body can not imagine that such a sinister thing has happened. It "thinks" that the blood is not getting purified because of lack of air. So it quickens the respiration. The person starts gasping. But nothing helps because the cause lies somewhere else and the person dies.

    Now this is where discrepancies lie…in how much is needed. This article cited 200 mL (cc’s), which I think is an exaggeration. Other articles I have come across state wide ranges…anything from 20 mL to the above mentioned 200. I say about 20 mL, as an educated guess…and I read that in some nursing journal during schooling as well. 20 mL is approximately the length of an IV line…so those who’ve been in hospital can now envision how much is needed.

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    map200uk's Avatar
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    Thanks for posting this, i was waiting to see it, didn't realise this was where you'd posted it

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    Quote Originally Posted by map200uk
    Thanks for posting this, i was waiting to see it, didn't realise this was where you'd posted it
    Yeah, I wasn't quite sure if I should've put it here or in the AS forum itself? Takes a bit getting through all these threads all the time to get to posting it!!

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    Thanks Im glad I saw this

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    JoeyJuice is offline Banned
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    3 full cc's of air in a vein

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    Bruce willis's Avatar
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    yea but can it build up over time, say a tiny bit of air bubbles get in every time u inject, and 5 years later will the bubbles still be their or will the body have cleared it?

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    Most of the medical textbooks say it takes around 100 cc's of air to have a significant effect.

    I was interested in this and performed a few experiments on sheep in my lab...I injected over 250 cc's into a venous line and saw no detectable changes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by longhornDr
    Most of the medical textbooks say it takes around 100 cc's of air to have a significant effect.

    I was interested in this and performed a few experiments on sheep in my lab...I injected over 250 cc's into a venous line and saw no detectable changes.
    IACUC approved of course

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    so with all that being said, if you're using a 3-5ml syringe and 1cc or more is gear, that leaves 2-4cc's of air , so even if there was 4ccs of air it wouldnt kill u?

    or at least thats according to what the studies say

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    This is good to know. Glad you put it up. I'll stop using my 60cc syringe to inject now. Just 3cc's from here on out.

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    I've read articles about injecting air into sheep and it took well over 90cc's to kill it. All I know is I'm not even going to let 1cc of air in me!

    Thanks for the article

    BLT

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    Quote Originally Posted by buylongterm
    All I know is I'm not even going to let 1cc of air in me!

    Thanks for the article

    BLT
    same here

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    Money post.

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    No, 4 wouldn't kill you....I'm not going to experiment on myself though....the body can and does compensate for quite a bit. I've seen xrays of massive amounts of air in someone's lungs....and all was A-OK.

    Quote Originally Posted by map200uk
    so with all that being said, if you're using a 3-5ml syringe and 1cc or more is gear, that leaves 2-4cc's of air , so even if there was 4ccs of air it wouldnt kill u?

    or at least thats according to what the studies say

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    Back again.

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    DIVINATION is offline New Member
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    I read an article stating ONE registered case of embolism-inflicted death.

    According to the artice one would need approximately 40cc over a very short period (roughly 1s or less).

    Good luck getting that much in your vein in that amount of time!

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    Bigg Dreamer is offline Junior Member
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    good post many of my freinds have asked me this question and i didn't know the answer

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    Cruiser_67 is offline New Member
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    Has anyone here had surgery? Last year I donated a kidney. This left a bit of air in my body. I have no idea how much. I asked the Dr about it cause it was enough so when I would roll over in bed I would feel it move and it felt quite large maybe the size of a baseball or something. I know it was probably smaller though but it felt freakin huge. Needless to say about two weeks later it was gone absorbed by my body just as the Dr said it would..

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    zaarel is offline Junior Member
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    I did my first IM tonight. Was just a slin pin into bicep with IGF-1. I did see a decent sized air bubble form when I aspirated. I am pretty sure it came from that although when drawing the igf and then ba there were some bubbles...thought I got most of those out but didnt want to squirt a ton of that expensive stuff out to get em all. Question is if you aspirate and you arent in a blood vessel is air even that big a deal? LOL pretty nervous dont feel like stroking out.

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    Good advice.

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    fejaouk is offline New Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce willis
    yea but can it build up over time, say a tiny bit of air bubbles get in every time u inject, and 5 years later will the bubbles still be their or will the body have cleared it?
    No they would not accumulate. They body would absorb the air bubbles, what do you think is in your blood? Haemoglobin carrying tons of o2, oh and tons of other stuff lol.


    Fejaouk

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    weightshead is offline Associate Member
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    i've always left around 1cc of air in the syringe to try and prevent oil running out after an inject. i'm coming to the end of first cycle.

    glad to know i'd be fine even if somehow after aspirating it got in a blood vessel. however im curious would you notice 1cc of air in a vessel - ie coughing/pain etc...

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    aaaaa

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    Last edited by dprayvd; 08-24-2007 at 11:01 AM. Reason: aaaaa

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    weightshead is offline Associate Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by dprayvd
    As far as IM injections are concerned, 0.2ml of air will ensure complete emplying of a 22g pin (provided one takes care when the bubble is about to enter the pin). Also, pulling lateral tension on the skin and its subcutaneous layers prior to sinking the pin and release of this tension immediatly after will in concert with the bubble act to sequester the injection (bolus) of "substance" in the muscle. This is achieved by altering the orientation of the layers of tissue so that when the tension is released, there is no longer the linear orientation of the tissues--assisting the bolus to remain wher one puts it. It is known as a "Z-track."

    As far as IV air emboli goes, venous blood can handle many mLs. However, if the air is introduced more centrally (as in a picc line, groshong, or quad lumen via subclavian or ej approach), the likelihood of air emboli in the lungs increased. This has to do with oxygen tension differences between deoxygenated venous blood (where 3 of the 4 oxygen binding sites on the heme portion of hemoglobin are saturated) and fully oxygenated arterial blood (all four sites saturated). In addition, venous flow proceeds from capillary to very large-caliber circulation, so a bubble (if it is not for some realson solved into solution) has a long way to go under relatively low pressure to get to pulmonary (lung) circulation where it can actually lodge in a capillary bed. PEs are very bad and people die everyday directly from them (But these aredue to bloodclots-not air-that almost exclusivly originate in the legs--a DVT--secondary to a variety of causes with age NOT being a primary risk factor).

    Arterial circulation is another matter entirly. A small bolus of air can end up anywhere. If it originates proximal of the aortic arch (before all circulation paths except the coronary arteries) it can end up anywhere--brain, upper extremities, liver, intestinal circulation, kidneys, reproductive organs, lower extremities and cause a localized stroke (that's right, a stroke is not exclusive to brain tissue). Very bad. Alsmost never happens. Who shoots into an artery?--they hurt so bad that one would pull out fast, like a sciatic nerve tap...rare.

    fantastic information.

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    Glock-19 is offline Banned
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    What happens if you enject air into the muscle or fat and not a vein?

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    dprayvd is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by weightshead
    fantastic information.

    Thanks!

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    I did some cyp yesterday for the first time . there were three tinny bubbles in the tip by the needel could not get them out. It just kept puhsing out the oil. Is this normal? Im not dead!but curious for next week.

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    Quote Originally Posted by boxman
    I did some cyp yesterday for the first time . there were three tinny bubbles in the tip by the needel could not get them out. It just kept puhsing out the oil. Is this normal? Im not dead!but curious for next week.
    Yes it's normal.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce willis
    yea but can it build up over time, say a tiny bit of air bubbles get in every time u inject, and 5 years later will the bubbles still be their or will the body have cleared it?
    BULL SHIT. IT DISSOLVES BEFORE IT REACHES THE LUNGS WHILE RETURNING THROUGH THE VENOUS SYSTEM. IT DOES NOT BUILD UP. END OF STORY

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    Ragingapplesauce is offline New Member
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    Really good post

    Really good post.

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    great post

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    are we saying to actually shoot a little air in with the mix?

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    anyone? any reason not to inject a little air IM with the oil?

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    stupidhippo is offline Anabolic Member
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    being the cheap bastard that I am I put a lil air just to squeeze out all the juice..

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    3cc into a vein will wipe u out.

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    Slic4788 is offline Associate Member
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    I've heard 1-3 cc's of air.

    No air at all is good, I thought there was supposed to be no air at all in the pin.

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    no air for me please lol

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