Israeli Woman Dies During Routine Hernia Operation, Health Ministry Investigating

40-year-old woman dies during surgery in Tel Aviv hospital; major blood vessel apparently damaged during operation.

Dan Even
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Dan Even

Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv is investigating the case of a 40-year-old woman who died Wednesday during surgery to repair a herniated diaphragm.

According to a statement issued by Ichilov, the surgery was performed by laparoscopy by means of small incisions in the stomach. A major blood vessel was apparently damaged during the operation, resulting in hemorrhaging and a fatal drop in blood pressure. Efforts to resuscitate the woman failed.

The hospital noted that the women had suffered from a massive hernia and that the operation was performed by a senior surgeon who was highly experienced in such procedures.

Herniated diaphragms, a condition in which the internal organs move upward toward the chest vacity, afflict some 10 percent of the adult population at some point in their lives.

The death has been reported to the Health Ministry. After the hospital conducts its own investigation, its findings will be conveyed to the Health Ministry, which will continue dealing with it if necessary, the statement said.

Death due to hemorrhage during hernia surgery is considered a rare complication. Normally, when a major blood vessel is damaged, the bleeding can be brought under control. Hemorrhaging can occur while the hernia is being sutured or when staples are applied at the end of the surgery.

A national study in Denmark by the University of Copenhagen analyzed 3,431 operations involving hernias of various types performed from 2005 to 2006. It revealed that in 5.3 percent of the cases another surgery was necessary due to various complications. Such complications occurred in 10.5 percent of patients who underwent a laparoscopic procedure and in 4.9 percent of patients who underwent the surgery by means of a large incision.

After 30 days, complications were reported in 4.1 percent of cases; 8.2 percent of those complications were in laparoscopy cases and 3.7 percent were cases of surgeries performed via large incisions.

An operating room. Credit: Nir Kafri