A 64-year-old patient who went to the hospital complaining of back pain and fever has died after doctors pulled a 7.8-inch blood clot in the shape of a bronchial tube from his lungs. While it wasn’t the procedure that killed him, he had been suffering from breathing difficulties and low blood pressure and was coughing up blood, according to his doctors’ accounts, which were published in BMJ Case Reports.
He was placed in the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust intensive care unit, in London, where he was receiving treatment for sepsis and was on a ventilator. A CT scan revealed lesions on his brain and another revealed pulmonary edema, and he was also suffering from a severe staph infection at the time.
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After he began coughing up blood, doctors discovered through a bronchoscopy that he had a “large pale blood clot” stuck inside his breathing tube and attempted several times to remove it through suction but were unsuccessful.
“Owing to the time of night, the resources required for rigid bronchoscopy were unavailable,” his doctors wrote in the case report. “Having verified a grade I view of the epiglottis, the patient was paralyzed, sedated and extubated under suction in an effort to remove the ETT and contiguous clot.”
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The removal was a success and his breathing improved immediately, but he could not recover from his various other ailments, which included bowel cancer. His family agreed to turn off life support and he died shortly after.
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Photos of the procedure show the blood clot attached to the end of the endotracheal tube once removed from the patient’s chest. Another shows the clot had formed in a perfect cast of the bronchial tube, and measured longer than his doctor’s finger.