Man died nine days after bowel cancer surgery, inquest hears

Doctors unable to explain complications which resulted in death of Michael Byrne (84)

Michael Byrne (84) from  Co Carlow became critically unwell following elective surgery at the Beacon Hospital in Dublin

Michael Byrne (84) from Co Carlow became critically unwell following elective surgery at the Beacon Hospital in Dublin

 

An elderly man died nine days after surgery for bowel cancer after he developed complications that doctors could not explain, an inquest has heard.

Michael Byrne (84) from Kill, Tullow, Co Carlow became critically unwell following elective surgery at the Beacon Hospital in Dublin on October 9th, 2015.

Following surgery, Mr Byrne’s condition deteriorated within hours and he died on October 18th.

Family members at Dublin Coroner’s Court said that five days after the operation, the father of four was so unwell he could not speak.

Mr Byrne developed multi-organ failure and died despite two further laparoscopic surgeries to try to identify the problem.

Professor Paul Neary, consultant in endoscopy and general surgery at the Beacon Hospital, said he went through the operation and the risks involved with Mr Byrne prior to surgery.

However, Prof Neary said Mr Byrne developed ‘unusual’ swelling of the abdomen after the operation. He was brought back for further surgery five days after the initial operation.

The wound was “holding together,” Prof Neary said. A further laparoscopic inspection two days before he died revealed no cause for his decline.

“I still don’t know why he died. He did deteriorate and continued to deteriorate and I don’t know why. He had CT scans and blood work and they didn’t account for his deterioration,” Prof Neary said. “I cannot account for the cause of his death.”

Pathologist Dr Susan Aherne carried out a postmortem which she said showed the man’s bowel was intact but a swab found evidence of e-coli.

She gave the cause of death as multi-organ failure following bowel surgery. Family members said the funeral was a closed coffin ceremony due to the condition in which the body was returned to them.

Dr Aherne apologised for any additional distress this caused and said pathology staff make every effort to return remains so that they can be viewed.

Returning a narrative verdict, Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane said it was unfortunate the hearing had not been able to fully clarify the Byrne family’s question surrounding the cause of death.

“Obviously the main question is what resulted in the tragic outcome of a planned operation. Unfortunately we still have not been able to clarify that. I hope you can understand the limitations of the evidence,” the coroner said.