Hong Kong man in critical state after doctors find air bubbles in artery during treatment

Patient, 49, was at Tuen Mun hospital with chest pain and very low blood pressure due to heart attack

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 November, 2016, 10:31am
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 November, 2016, 10:32am

A 49-year-old man has been fighting for his life after air bubbles were found in an artery during a procedure to open it up.

The patient attended Tuen Mun Hospital’s medicine and geriatrics specialist outpatient clinic on the morning of October 25 with chest pain and very low blood pressure due to a heart attack.

His condition was critical, and he was admitted for percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), a non-surgical procedure to open up arteries, which was arranged for noon in the same day, a hospital spokesman said.

When an angiography was performed on his right coronary artery, an air embolism was seen, meaning one or more air bubbles had entered the artery and blocked it.

The patient’s blood pressure remained low, and he went into cardiac arrest.

Resuscitation was initiated, and his condition was stabilised. The operation was completed.

No residual gas was found subsequently.

The patient’s blood pressure remained low, and he stayed critical after the operation.

Hong Kong hospital launches probe into patient’s death after bubbles were found in oxygen machine

He was given extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) by a special team from Queen Mary Hospital to support his blood circulatory function. He was then transferred to Queen Mary Hospital for further treatment.

The patient was stabilised and regained consciousness.

Another operation was performed on Wednesday morning to connect an external cardiac assist device, as a substitute for ECMO.

He was then declared to be in a critical state.

The hospital spokesman said a panel would be set up to investigate the incident. It will submit an investigation report within eight weeks.

A patient died after a similar incident in Queen Elizabeth Hospital in September.

The 44-year-old man suffering from heart failure died after using an oxygen-supplying machine in which gas bubbles were found. The machine, used for peripheral veno-arterial extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or VA-ECMO, was connected during a PCI.