Man, 85, who died after biopsy was the one in 1,000

PHOTO: Man, 85, who died after biopsy was the one in 1,000

SINGAPORE - There was a one in 1,000 chance that he would suffer internal bleeding during the procedure.

But not only did Mr Ning Yit Kwong bleed, he also suffocated from having his own blood flood his left lung.

The 85-year-old had some relief when more than half-a-can's worth of blood was drained from his lung. But the bleeding continued and hours later, he died from massive internal bleeding.

This happened last October after a biopsy was conducted to check on a suspicious lump found in Mr Ning 's left lung.

The biopsy involved using a needle to extract tissue to further analyse the lump.

According to court papers, he was also advised that the risk of a haemothorax or bleeding from arteries inside or outside the lung in biopsies was one out of 1,000 patients.

On Tuesday, the court heard that Mr Ning complained of breathlessness just minutes after the procedure was performed at National University Hospital (NUH) on Oct 24.

He died about five hours after the CT-guided lung biopsy.

NUH's radiology department's senior consultant Yeong Kuan Yuen, who had performed the biopsy, gave his testimony in court yesterday.

Dr Yeong, who has 23 years' experience in interventional radiology, said: "I sent the patient to the recovery area after the surgery. Ten minutes later, nurses came in to say that the patient was breathless."

Through a CT scan, Dr Yeong found that fluid in Mr Ning's left lung had "increased significantly".

The retiree told the doctor that he was no longer breathless after 200ml of the fluid - which turned out to be blood - was drained from his left lung.

UNRESPONSIVE

Mr Ning was sent to the hospital's intensive care unit and died later, when he became unresponsive.

An autopsy report stated the cause of death as "massive haemothorax following CT-guided biopsy of left lung".

Another witness, Dr Luke Michael Toh Han Wei, who prepared an Independent Medical Expert Report, said it was "difficult to tell" whether the bleeding was from the tumour or some other source.

In his report, Dr Toh concluded that "the recognition and management of the post-procedural complication of haemothorax was appropriate and satisfactory".

Dr Yeong, who performs 50 biopsies a year, testified that he was careful not to puncture any significant blood vessels in the lungs.

"My main issue (was) not to go over too much lung," said Dr Yeong, who shared that most biopsies he performs are lung-related.

"The window of my puncture was small."

When asked by State Coroner Marvin Bay if any of Dr Yeong's patients had died from lung biopsies, Dr Yeong said it was the "first time this has happened to me".

This article was published on May 7 in The New Paper.

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