AN elderly cancer patient died from an infection following rare complications with a routine biopsy procedure, an inquest was told.
Mary Salvin, 82, died on January 22 from peritonitis as a result of a perforated caecum – the pouch by the beginning of the large intestine.
The Gayhurst Road resident, who had been diagnosed with lung cancer, attended Wycombe Hospital on January 17 for a routine colonoscopy after doctors wanted to explore ‘other areas of interest’ following a scan.
Dr Christopher Gatzen told Beaconsfield Coroner’s Court there was a technical problem during the procedure, with the wire lasso used to snare a growth becoming caught mid-way through severing it from the wall of the body.
This resulted in him switching to a different piece of equipment and using an increased burst of electrical current to snare 95 percent of the growth.
But despite the set-back, he told Wednesday’s inquest it was a ‘typical’ procedure and Mrs Salvin was discharged from hospital feeling well.
But on arriving at her house on January 21 to take her back to hospital for another procedure, Mrs Salvin’s children called for an ambulance after she appeared "out of it". She died the next day.
Professor Ian Roberts said it was his belief the increased current used during the biopsy caused thrombosis and the tissue around the caecum to die – which caused the perforation, allowing bacteria to spill into the body.
He also ruled Mrs Salvin’s cancer was terminal and she would have eventually died from the disease.
Dr Gatzen said while it is possible for the bowels of cancer patients to spontaneously perforate, he said: "It is too much of a coincidence.
"I must accept the procedure would have almost certainly caused the perforation, even though it was a typical procedure."
He added it was just the fourth perforation he had come across in his 20 year career, with the chances of it happening more than one in 1000 patients.
Recording a conclusion of misadventure, the Buckinghamshire Coroner Richard Hulett said: "This is usually a routine procedure without ill effects but on this occasion there were some problems.
"The need to apply a different current has led to the cutting off of the blood supply, which has resulted in the tissue breaking down over several days before Mrs Salvin becomes very unwell.
"It is misadventure as the procedure was carried out for the right reasons but it ran into unforeseen circumstances and it has gone wrong."