Q and A: Understanding latest setback

February 11, 2006 23:11
1 minute read.

What is the condition that caused Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's setback? Acute occlusion of a branch of the superior mesenteric artery. This occurs suddenly and is usually due to a blood clot, most often caused by atherosclerosis in the vessel. Patients who are conscious when it happens generally complain of severe abdominal pain, and often writhe in agony and vomit. But in comatose patients, who feel no pain, there is no such early warning, and caretakers rely instead on other signs, such as a sudden drop in blood pressure. How is it treated? The survival of the intestine and the patient depends on immediate restoration of the blood supply to the intestines. Surgery is almost always performed immediately. Should Sharon have been receiving anti-clotting drugs (as he did after his first ischemic stroke) to prevent such an occurrence? Was it caused by lack of movement? Was there any negligence here? Anti-clotting drugs as a preventive measure should not have been given, according to medical experts, because they could have caused another hemorrhagic stroke in his brain. And even if they had been given, it would not have prevented such an acute condition in an atherosclerotic patient. Sharon is being moved constantly with a special electric bed and by his nurses to prevent bed sores and other complications. This type of clot was not due to a lack of movement of his limbs. Despite this setback, could Sharon still regain consciousness? Although it is not impossible that he will regain consciousness, the passing of each day that he remains in a coma reduces the chance of recovery and increases the risk of further complications.

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