Undertaking any medical procedure tends to involve some amount of risk. One basic risk is that the procedure simply won’t solve the problem, but we seem to feel a natural sense of fear that things could get even worse. Rationally, however, we can rest assured that medical science has nearly perfected a lot of simple procedures, while the trickier ones are getting more reliable every day. That said, here are some of the medical procedures that experts still identify as highly dangerous.
Topping the list is brain surgery that involves a craniectomy. This is where a portion of the skull is removed to access the brain for surgery, and that piece of skull is never replaced. This means that patients who have undertaken this procedure must always protect their heads from injury in the exposed area, for the rest of their lives. Besides that, brain surgery comes with risks of damage that can result in the functional loss of memory, hearing, vision, speech, coordination, and mobility. These effects can either be temporary or permanent. Other problems can include fluid buildup in the brain, swelling of the brain, seizures, and strokes.
Second to brain surgery would be heart surgery, specifically a kind of heart surgery that requires stopping the heart during the procedure. As in the case of a septal myotomy, which is performed to reduce thickening of the heart muscles, the doctor needs to stop the beating of the heart operates. This means that while the heart isn’t beating, the blood is redirected to a heart-lung machine for circulation and oxygenation. Such a procedure can take up to six hours, and due to the extreme risks, the patient must recover in the Intensive Care Unit.
Surgery on obese patients introduces a number of complications. Procedures like bariatric surgeries, or gastric bypasses, are complicated by the fat surrounding internal organs, which tend to reduce the visibility and working area of the surgeon, as well as his or her ability to get a reliable grip on tissues. Another difficulty arises with anesthesia. Tube insertion into the lungs for delivering gaseous pain-killing medications is challenging because of restrictions of the airways. In addition to that, absorption of anesthetics by fat cells reduces their effectiveness. Finally, the breathing of the patient can be difficult and must be monitored during and after surgery. In the longer term, these patients also have a higher likelihood of getting pneumonia.
Cancer of the esophagus is a serious condition, and the medical procedure to treat it is extremely risky too. An esophagectomy can involve removing major portions of the esophagus, the tube that transports food from the throat to the stomach. The amount of removal depends on the existing spread of cancer, and the intent is to prevent cancer from spreading to the stomach and other organs.
One way to identify dangerous medical procedures is to seek answers to the question, are there certain medical procedures that are consistently at the root of medical malpractice suits? Indeed, complicated procedures require greater care and expertise, and the lawsuits that arise for failure to deliver the needed care point to those risks.