The diagnosis of GE is made in two very different situations: in some the GE risk and onset of GE symptoms are obvious allowing for immediate treatment (e.g., arteriography of a conscious patient); in others the risk is unrealized and the clinical signs are hidden or related to another pathology, delaying diagnosis and producing a deleterious effect on prognosis (e.g., central line placement of an unconscious patient or anesthesia case).

The clinical symptomatology induced by GE is due to the vascular obstruction. Thus it depends on the areas affected. However, in situations where there is a risk of GE, the sudden occurrence of a combination of neurological and cardiovascular signs is highly indicative. Although its occurrence is always sudden and is generally immediate, it can be delayed by a few minutes to even several hours. Delayed manifestations are associated with patient movement or changes in position dislodging bubbles.

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