A DEFECT on the skull of a young woman, who died weeks after a routine operation at Basingstoke hospital, should have “raised alarm bells”, an inquest heard.
Professor John Macfie, an independent expert, made the comments at the inquest into the death of Elisha Langley.
Elisha, of Worting Road, Basingstoke, did not receive a CT scan, which eventually diagnosed an abscess she had in her brain, until December 21, 2012. She collapsed the same day and died two days later.
Elisha was first admitted to Basingstoke hospital for an operation to remove a sebaceous cyst from her head on November 19, and was readmitted twice in the following weeks, suffering from symptoms including vomiting.
Dr Jonathan Duffill, who opera-ted on 20-year-old Elisha after she collapsed at Southampton hospital, spoke at the inquest into her death last week. He said he was “disappointed” that she had not been referred to him by Basingstoke hospital staff earlier.
The consultant neurosurgeon expressed surprise that a defect in Elisha’s skull, which would have prompted further investigation, was not picked up at Basingstoke hospital.
He said: “The need to do a scan would have been recognised here if the signs of a skull defect had been recognised.”
Dr Duffill said that in these cases, the earlier the abscess is identified, and the earlier the operation to drain it is performed, the more likely it is that the patient will survive.
Prof Macfie told the inquest he believed Elisha had a defect of the skull which could have been picked up during the initial operation to remove a sebaceous cyst from her head on November 19. The operation was carried out by Dr Kandiah Chandrakumaram at Basingstoke hospital.
Last Tuesday, Dr Chandrakumaram told the inquest that what he saw was a “roughness”, which was “of no significance at all”, and he said he was satisfied that it was the result of the long-standing cyst.
However, Prof Macfie said: “I have never seen, or heard of, an erosion on the skull in association with a simple sebaceous cyst.”
He said that these defects, along with the results of the CT scan, convinced him that the cyst originated in the bones of the skull, not in the skin.
He told Southampton coroner Keith Wiseman that the observed defects and the high level of bleeding “should have raised alarm bells”.
He agreed with the coroner’s statement to him that “further assessment could, and should, have been triggered.”
Prof Macfie also told the coroner that he believed Elisha’s chances of survival were remote, even if the CT scan had been carried out earlier, in part because of her very low body weight.
The inquest was told that Elisha had the stature of a 10-year-old girl. Elisha, who suffered from congenital dysmorphic syndrome and scoliosis, collapsed at Southampton hospital on December 21 after being transferred there from Basingstoke hospital.
She was operated on by neurosurgeons at the hospital when she was in a coma, but she never recovered and her family made the decision to turn off her life-support machine on December 23.
Elisha’s mother Julie Langley left the inquest in tears as details of her daughter’s final days were read by Mr Wiseman.
The inquest has now been adjourned until March 31, when coroner Mr Wiseman has said he will return a narrative verdict.