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Vultures circling over Kanye West's mother's death after surgery

Posted Jun 18 2009 1:03am

The tabloids are in overdrive digging up dirt on the surgeon who performed Kanye Wests' mother's surgery. The surgeon in question was kind of a minor media figure, having hosted some TV shows on plastic surgery. In an instant, this doctor's career has been reduced to "the guy who killed Kanye's mom" which is kind of sad.

Still to be determined is what exactly was the cause of death?

The implication being circulated is that she should not have been done as an outpatient surgery. That's a judgment call, but it's one that has to take into consideration her age, medical comorbidities, type of proposed surgery, and length of surgery. Her surgery was apparently almost 8 hours long, which while longer then you like, is certainly not outside the vague notion of "standard of care". Publicized cases like this tend to lead to reactionary measures, and I would not be surprised with some fallout in California as to how office surgery is regulated.

A woman her age (almost 60) who dies shortly after this kind of surgery would make me think of a few things

  1. Did she have a post-operative heart attack ( MI)?

  2. Did she have hypovolemic shock from intra-operative or post-operative bleeding?

  3. Could she have had toxicity from lidocaine (a local anesthetic) used in high volume liposuction?

  4. Did she get nauseated, throw up, and subsequently go into respiratory arrest from aspiration?

There's a couple of less likely things that can happen, but they usually don't present quite like Mrs. West's case. Those would be pulmonary embolism (a blood clot which migrates to the lungs & usually happens a few days later), bowel perforation (usually has a more gradual onset of sepsis), and acute necrotizing infections (usually from Streptococcal group A or B bacteria).

Post operative deaths are rare, but tragic. They reportedly occur in only one of 51,459 cosmetic procedures, according to the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. It's been suggested that number may actually slightly under-represent the problem as not all deaths get reported accurately. For example, a study a few years ago by some dermatologists claiming no deaths from high volume office-based liposuction cases performed by dermatologists flew in the face of numerous anecdotal reports by General & Plastic Surgeons having to deal with major complications which showed up in the hospital from some of these same dermatologists.

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