Oxygen embolism due to hydrogen peroxide irrigation during cervical spinal surgery. Author: Morikawa H; Mima H; Fujita H; Mishima S Source: Can J Anaesth 1995 Mar; 42(3):231-3 Abstract: Hydrogen peroxide is used to cleanse and irrigate wounds. As it decomposes immediately into water and oxygen on contact with organic tissue, it is usually regarded as a safe agent. We report a case of oxygen embolism associated with hydrogen peroxide irrigation of the surgical field during anterior fusion of the cervical vertebrae. It was accompanied by precipitous hypotension and decrease in pulse oximetry oxygen saturation and end-tidal CO2 tension. Semi-closed spaces formed under the apatite dowel and between the apatite dowel and vertebral bodies may have precipitated the absorption of oxygen bubbles into the vasculature. Although this case was associated with a rapid recovery and uneventful sequelae, it discourages the use of hydrogen peroxide in this procedure because of the potential hazards including cardiovascular collapse.