Belfast Telegraph

Woman died after air leak from lung following surgery to remove tumour

By Michael McHugh

A woman died following an air leak from the site of lung surgery, a coroner has said.

Margaret Sloan had a heart attack in the back of an ambulance last year after struggling to breathe at home.

The 69-year-old had recently been released from Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital, where she had surgery to remove a dangerous tumour.

Coroner Joe McCrisken said: "It seems on the balance of probabilities it is likely there was some sort of leak from around the surgical site."

Mrs Sloan, a married retired domestic assistant from Fountain Lane in Antrim, died at Antrim Area Hospital on September 7 last year.

She had been suffering bouts of chest infections linked to a cancerous growth in her lungs amid an underlying respiratory problem.

After extensive assessments, doctors decided to operate to try and prevent pneumonia.

Surgeon Kieran McManus said: "Mr Sloan agreed to proceed to the surgery, informed that she was a high-risk case."

The operation went according to plan, and there were no signs of any air leaks over the following week she was in hospital recovering.

However, shortly after she went home, Mrs Sloan became severely short of breath and was taken back to hospital in an ambulance.

She suffered a heart attack on the way and was later pronounced brain dead.

Mr McManus said there were a number of possible reasons for the leaking of air from her lung, including efforts to resuscitate her.

But pathologist Dr Peter Ingram claimed surgical cuts were the most likely cause.

"The recent surgery must be regarded as the underlying cause of her death," he said.

When challenged about other possible causes, he added: "A leak from the surgical site was by far the most likely."

To test his theory, he injected water down Mrs Sloan's airways, and it appeared to leak from the site of the wound.

Mr McManus said there had been no sign of a leakage in a number of X-rays taken after the surgery, and that the staples holding the wound closed were still intact.

The coroner found Mrs Sloan died from cerebral hypoxia following cardiac arrest.

"I am satisfied that the surgery was carried out to a very high standard," he said.

He added her treatment in the Antrim Area Hospital was also of a high standard.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph