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Case study: Risks of Keyhole surgery

MagazineApril 1994 (Vol. 5 Issue 1)Case study: Risks of Keyhole surgery

In August 1991 I underwent a laparoscopic cholecystectomy (removal of the gall bladder via keyhole surgery) and shortly afterward experienced pain on walking

In August 1991 I underwent a laparoscopic cholecystectomy (removal of the gall bladder via keyhole surgery) and shortly afterward experienced pain on walking. After various investigations I was diagnosed as having avascular necrosis of the head of the left femur (thigh). (That means death of some of the cells in a tissue, not involving blood vessels, but possibly caused by inadequate blood supply to the tissue or injury.)

Forest Healthcare Trust are unable to offer any explanation for my condition. The consultant who carried out the cholecystectomy stands by his opinion that there is no connection, even though he can offer no explanation as to why I should have contracted avascular necrosis a condition usually associated with deep sea divers, chronic alcoholics and people who fracture their hip.Because the consultant does not think there is a link, he is not required to report my case to any monitoring body. I have today written to the Royal College of Surgeons expressing my dismay at this. I am told that my condition is a one off, but I only have the opinion of the consultant on this.

My case also highlights the fact that there is no compensation scheme available to recompense patients who suffer injury, when it is difficult to prove negligence. L L, London.....

As this type of surgery is so new and unstudied, and cases of injury common (see Cover Story), not even the most experienced surgeon can claim to know all the possible risks.

Action for Victims of Medical Accidents (AVMA) Bank Chambers, 1 London Road, Forest Hill, London SE23 3TP, may a good first port of call to get legal guidance as to whether you are entitled to legal aid in making a claim against the doctor and health authority.

As for your pain, you may want to consider one of a number of therapies acupuncture or reflexology, for instance with proven benefit for pain relief (see p 9).

Keeping your guard up

Pain relief

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