Fires can set everywhere, but in a human body, one might think it isn’t even rare, it’s impossible… Well, the impossible has just happened.
A man in Australia experienced a “flash fire” in his chest cavity during an emergency heart surgery, media reports said.
In the details, a 60-year-old man needed surgery to fix a life-threatening tear in his aortic artery- the main artery in the chest that carries blood out of the heart. The man was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a chronic lung disease.
Live Science reported that during the surgery, doctors noticed that the man’s right lung was stuck to his sternum, or breastbone, and some lung tissue had become over-inflated. These areas are known as “bullae,” and are often caused by COPD.
“Doctors tried to avoid the bullae as they opened the man’s sternum to access his chest. But despite a careful effort, the surgeons punctured one of the bullae, causing air to leak out of the man’s lung,” the report said. “When this happened, doctors needed to give the man a higher dose of supplemental oxygen to prevent breathing problems. Later in the surgery, doctors used an electrocautery device, which heats tissue with electricity, to stop blood vessels from bleeding.
Suddenly, sparks from the electrocautery device ignited a fire on the surgical gauze”.
The fire was quickly extinguished with saline (salt water), and the rest of the man’s surgery was successful, as doctors repaired the aortic tear.
“While eruptions of fires during surgery are rare — and chest cavity fires even more unusual — the case “highlights the continued need for fire training and prevention strategies during surgery,” said Dr. Ruth Shaylor, of the Department of Anaesthesia and Pain Medicine at Austin Health in Melbourne, Australia.
He noted that certain circumstances involve the presence of high oxygen levels together with sources of heat, where this can increase the risk of fires.
According to Live Science report, there are three critical “ingredients” for a surgical fire: The first is the presence of an “oxidizer,” including supplemental oxygen; the second is an ignition source, such as an electrocautery device; and the third is a fuel source, including surgical gauze, sponges or drapes, or even the patient’s hair and skin.