February 03, 2021

Air bubbles in IV lines removed with in-line filters

By Dr. Volker Luibl, MBA, Cytiva

Venous air embolism as a complication of intravenous therapy has been recognized since the 19th Century. Unfortunately, even modern infusion therapy has not eliminated this concern, but IV in-line filters help address the issue.

Gerard J Myers stated in 2017:  "The culture of 'a little air won’t hurt you' is as outdated as the Model T Ford and it is time to stop perpetuating this misguided belief on future generations of health care workers ... The reality is, even small amounts of air have the potential to create adverse consequences and can be harmful to a patient, especially if these venous air emboli transit from the right side of the heart to the left side of the heart." (1)

Overall, the incidence of air embolism has been estimated at a high of 1:47 catheterization events to a low of 1:3000 and episodes of verified air embolism are associated with high mortality (30% or greater) or devastating morbid events.(2,3) Venous air embolisms are a significant economic burden, since Subin Lee, et al. in 2013 stated, "complications associated with vascular air embolism costs the healthcare system, on average, $66,007 per incident, and its medical claims have the highest median compensation." (4)

IV in-line filters address the issue of venous air embolism by removing air bubbles from intravenous infusion lines. (4)

Watch this video on how our IV in-line filters remove air bubbles from intravenous infusion lines


  1. Myers GJ. Air in intravenous lines: a need to review old opinions. Perfusion. 2017;32(6):432-435.  doi:10.1177/0267659117706834.
  2. Orebaugh SL. Venous air embolism: clinical and experimental considerations. Crit Care Med. 1992;20(8):1169-1177. doi:10.1097/00003246-199208000-00017.
  3. Cook LS. Infusion-related air embolism. J Infus Nurs. 2013;36(1):26-36. doi:10.1097/NAN.0b013e318279a804.
  4. Subin Lee, Bulsara KR. Assessing the Efficacy of Commercially Available Filters in Removing Air Micro-Emboli in Intravenous Infusion Systems. J Extra Corpor Technol. 2020;52(2):118-125. doi:10.1182/ject-1900037.

Author bio

Dr. Volker Luibl, MBA

Dr. Volker Luibl, MBA

Dr. Luibl is a Demand Generation Marketing Manager at Cytiva with knowledge in medical devices and clinical science.