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The following electronic only articles are published in conjunction with this issue of Heart.

Coronary air embolism treated with aspiration catheter

M S Patterson, F Kiemeneij

Coronary air embolism remains a recognised complication of coronary catheterisation despite a strong emphasis on prevention. Current treatment consists of supportive measures with 100% oxygen and analgesia. Recent case reports describe the use of mechanical treatments aimed at dispersing or removing the air embolus with variable success. A case of coronary air embolism causing an acute coronary syndrome is described that was definitively treated with an aspiration system. The effectiveness of the aspiration system in the distal section of an obtuse marginal artery indicates that such dedicated aspiration systems may prove useful in the standard treatment of air embolism.

(Heart 2005;91:e36) www.heartjnl.com/cgi/content/full/91/5/e36

Vasculitis masquerading as aortic valve endocarditis

M B Iqbal, Ni G Fisher, K M Fox

Small vessel vasculitis and endocarditis can both present with multisystem involvement and may present a diagnostic dilemma. Renal and cardiac involvement is common in small vessel vasculitis and rarely small vessel vasculitis may cause heart block. When a patient presents with diffuse symptoms, deteriorating renal function, and heart block, endocarditis and vasculitis should be included in the differential diagnosis. The case is discussed of a man with a history of aortic valve endocarditis who presented again with similar symptoms, deteriorating renal function, and heart block. There was no evidence of aortic valve endocarditis with abscess formation. A renal biopsy confirmed small vessel vasculitis and the patient responded promptly to immunosuppressive treatment. Correct diagnosis is essential in such cases, as immunosuppression in true endocarditis can be catastrophic. In this case, with the correct diagnosis, immunosuppression proved life saving and prevented erroneous aortic valve surgery.

(Heart 2005;91:e37) www.heartjnl.com/cgi/content/full/91/5/e37

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