Air emboli are reported to enter the cardiovascular system during cardiac surgery despite air-bubble filters in the arterial line of the cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB). A potential association with stroke, covert cerebral insults and cognitive decline after cardiac surgery has been hypothesized. Although most of the previous studies failed to prove it, this hypothesis cannot be rejected because the situation in the operating room (OR) is multifactorial and complex. Therefore, rigorous and standardized protocols are needed to investigate sources, patterns, as well as effective quantity and volume of air embolism.
We hereby present our protocol in detail for systematic data collection as a standard quality control measure at our center, where air bubbles in the cardiopulmonary bypass circuit are measured by a commercial bubble counter. We also show a preview of the type of information that can be obtained for future analysis. The eventual aim is to determine a potential association between air emboli and adverse postoperative outcomes, as well as to identify major sources of air bubbles generation and in the long run to find effective prevention strategies.