Nav: Home

Chest cavity fire during emergency cardiac surgery

June 02, 2019

At this year's Euroanaesthesia Congress (the annual meeting of the European Society of Anaesthesiology) in Vienna, Austria (1-3 June), doctors present the unique case of a man who suffered a flash fire in his chest cavity during emergency heart surgery caused by supplemental oxygen leaking from a ruptured lung.

Dr Ruth Shaylor and colleagues from Austin Health in Melbourne, Australia, where the incident took place, warn that the case highlights the potential dangers of dry surgical packs in the oxygen-enrich environment of the operating theatre where electrocautery devices (using heat to stop vessels from bleeding) are used.

In August 2018, a 60-year-old man presented for emergency repair of an ascending aortic dissection--a tear in the inner layer of the aorta wall in the chest. The patient had a history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and had undergone coronary artery bypass grafting one year previously.

As surgeons began to operate, they noted that the man's right lung was stuck to the overlying sternum with areas of overinflated and destroyed lung (bullae; often caused by COPD). Despite careful dissection, one of these bullae was punctured causing a substantial air leak. To prevent respiratory distress, the flows of anaesthetic gases were increased to 10 litres per minute and the proportion of oxygen to 100%.

Soon after, a spark from the electrocautery device ignited a dry surgical pack. The fire was immediately extinguished without any injury to the patient. The rest of the operation proceeded uneventfully and the repair was a success.

"While there are only a few documented cases of chest cavity fires--three involving thoracic surgery and three involving coronary bypass grafting--all have involved the presence of dry surgical packs, electrocautery, increased inspired oxygen concentrations, and patients with COPD or pre-existing lung disease", explains Dr Shaylor.

"This case highlights the continued need for fire training and prevention strategies and quick intervention to prevent injury whenever electrocautery is used in oxygen-enriched environments. In particular surgeons and anaesthetists need to be aware that fires can occur in the chest cavity if a lung is damaged or there is an air leak for any reason, and that patients with COPD are at increased risk."
-end-


ESA (European Society of Anaesthesiology)

Related Copd Articles:

COPD appears to cause more severe symptoms in women
Women who develop COPD report smoking fewer cigarettes than men; and yet, women experience greater breathing impairments, are subjected to more acute exacerbations of symptoms and report lower quality of life than men with the disease, according to research presented at ATS 2019.
African-Americans with COPD appear less likely to use pulmonary rehab
African-American patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, are less likely to participate in pulmonary rehabilitation programs than white patients, even when there are programs nearby.
COPD and type 2 diabetes
COPD and type 2 diabetes are two highly prevalent global health conditions associated with high mortality and morbidity.
Number of nonsmokers with COPD on the rise
The global burden of COPD is high, and prevalence of nonsmokers with COPD has been increasing.
Flu vaccination keeps COPD patients out of the hospital
A new study published in the January issue of CHEST® establishes that patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) face heightened risks of death, critical illness, and hospitalization if they develop the flu and demonstrates the beneficial effects of influenza vaccination.
More Copd News and Copd Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Erasing The Stigma
Many of us either cope with mental illness or know someone who does. But we still have a hard time talking about it. This hour, TED speakers explore ways to push past — and even erase — the stigma. Guests include musician and comedian Jordan Raskopoulos, neuroscientist and psychiatrist Thomas Insel, psychiatrist Dixon Chibanda, anxiety and depression researcher Olivia Remes, and entrepreneur Sangu Delle.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#537 Science Journalism, Hold the Hype
Everyone's seen a piece of science getting over-exaggerated in the media. Most people would be quick to blame journalists and big media for getting in wrong. In many cases, you'd be right. But there's other sources of hype in science journalism. and one of them can be found in the humble, and little-known press release. We're talking with Chris Chambers about doing science about science journalism, and where the hype creeps in. Related links: The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases: retrospective observational study Claims of causality in health news: a randomised trial This...