My heart’s on fire, but it ain’t for Elvira

How many of you remember this song?  Here’s a 15-second excerpt.

Turns out that a heart can literally be on fire . . . but Elvira had nothing to do with this one.

… the patient, a 60-year-old man, was in surgery last year for the repair of a tear in the inner layer of the aorta wall in the chest, according to the European Society of Anaesthesiology.

But the patient’s chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, known as COPD, meant he had air-filled blisters, which doctors punctured, leading to a leak.

Doctors worried that the man would suffer a respiratory attack, and decided to give him more anesthesia, which resulted in his receiving 100 percent oxygen.

The increased oxygen, however, proved to be a recipe for disaster after doctors used a surgical tool that uses heat to cut through tissue and stop vessels from bleeding. It sparked, igniting a dry surgical pack that had been placed near the man’s chest cavity and that led to a flash fire.

The doctors quickly extinguished the fire, and in what some published reports hail as a miracle, the man suffered no harm.

The doctors conducted a search for other, similar such incidents and found there have been at least six chest cavity fires in operating rooms. In all of them, dry surgical packs, elevated oxygen levels, the heat-producing surgical tool and a patient with a lung condition all played a role.

There’s more at the link.

That’s pretty scary!  I’m very glad the patient was uninjured, but I bet there was consternation and monkeyhouse in that operating theater for a while.



  1. Man…. Elvira, either in or out of elvira-form. A beautiful lady who doesn't take herself too seriously.

    As to Hearts-on-Fire, Medical Edition. Doctors and medical staff kill far more people than guns in the US of A, even though there are significantly far more guns than medical people.

    I have heard of bowels exploding, but not hearts on fire. Weird world, eh?

  2. Yep. IIRC, the figure is ~700,000/year in the US alone, by medical misadventure. Be interesting to see what the outcome would be if the practice of medicine was outlawed.

  3. This is the kind of thing that happens when boys don't play with chemicals and fire enough. Dude, oxygen, fuel and electricity, oh my.

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