AUSTRALIAN PATIENT CATCHES FIRE IN THE MIDDLE OF HEART SURGERY
Well, that’s new. So we all know about heart surgery. That’s when doctors literally crack your chest open to get to your heart. Sometimes it’s a normal surgery. But other times, like this time, it’s an emergency procedure. Doctors reported on this very unusual case last week at the annual Euroanaesthesia Congress. What? You’ve never heard of that? Well, me neither. It’s the yearly convention of the European Society of Anesthesiology. So what happened? In short, doctors performed an emergency surgery for a 60-year-old patient in Australia. Due to a combination of issues, the patient’s open chest briefly caught on fire. Seriously. Amazingly, the doctors put out the fire and continued the surgery, successfully.
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DOCTORS HAD TO PERFORM EMERGENCY SURGERY, BUT THEN CAME AN UNEXPECTED FLASH FIRE
So this patient had a major problem. Doctors call it ascending aortic dissection. That means a really dangerous tear happens in the inner wall of the heart’s major artery, which pumps blood from the heart to the rest of the body. So yes, that’s kind of serious, to say the least. If doctors don’t fix it fast, it’s pretty much fatal. But this patient also had serious lung problems. He had COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. So when doctors cracked open his sternum, pieces of damaged lung tissue were stuck to the bone. When they cracked the sternum open, they also punctured one of these “bullae.” That caused a serious air leak, which means the man’s lungs could fill up with fluid, drowning him.
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SOMEHOW, DOCTORS PUT OUT CHEST CAVITY FIRE, FINISH EMERGENCY HEART REPAIR WITH NO COMPLICATIONS
So what happened then? Doctors upped the anesthesia and made the air intake 100% oxygen. But here’s the catch. The heart surgery requires an electrocautery. So yes, it is what it sounds like. It’s a device that burns thru tissue or burns it away. So a spark from this device, coupled with the high oxygen, caused a flash fire. Yes, in the patient’s chest! So doctors had to put out the fire. Amazingly, they finished this life saving procedure and the patient had no other complications, despite this flash fire. In his chest. So be sure to exercise. Regularly.