Doctors in Australia successfully completed emergency heart surgery despite a small fire erupting inside the man's chest cavity during the procedure.
The man visited the hospital in southeastern Australia, and medics found he had a tear in his aorta-the main artery which takes blood from the heart to the rest of the body.
Physicians from the Austin Health hospital in Melbourne recounted how a routine surgery involving an Aussie man became even more life-threatening when surgical instruments triggered a fire in the oxygen-enriched environment of the operating room. He was diagnosed with what is known as an ascending aortic dissection, and required emergency surgery to fix it.
Shaylor revealed that as surgeons began to operate, they noticed the man's right lung was stuck to the overlying sternum, finding areas of overinflated and destroyed lung. The patient had a history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and had undergone coronary artery bypass grafting one year previously. The third leading cause of death linked to disease in the US, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a lung disease which can make it hard for the sufferer to breathe. Bullae are blisters filled with air that often form in people with COPD. The medics responded by upping the gases used in the operation, including oxygen.
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The combination of oxygen and general anaesthesia pouring over an electrocautery device (a heated electrode used to stop bleeding) caused a spark that ignited a nearby dry surgical pack.
Fortunately, the surgeons were able to put out the fire immediately before it could cause more injury to the patient or to the medical staff. The patient did not suffer any injuries. They managed to find six other documented cases of chest cavity fires during surgery, all of which involved dry surgical packs, increased oxygen concentration, the electrocautery device, and a patient with COPD or another lung disease.
The unique case, which occurred in the medical facility past year, was presented during the annual meeting of the European Society of Anaesthesiology in Austria this June.
Large amounts of oxygen and anaesthetic leaked out through a hole in the patient's lung and, when one of the surgeon's tools sparked, a fire broke out.
Fires sparked during operations are rare but not unheard of, with an estimated 550 to 650 surgical fires every year in the US, according to the Emergency Care Research Institute.