The very rare episode recounted in the «BMJ Case Reports» involved a 60-year-old in Denmark: her hair got caught in a rotating drill
A Danish woman in her 60s underwent a complex and rare surgery to reattach the scalp which he had completely torn out along with his eyebrows, an ear and all of his hair while working with a drill press. The woman was intent on drilling a metal panel to fix the tractor when her hair caught on the rapidly rotating drill bit. There was only a thin layer of connective tissue left on her skull that was bleeding. Despite the drama of the event the woman managed to call an ambulance. «I believe that the extent of the trauma – the patient said six months after the operation – combined with the fact that I felt little pain all in all made everything very surreal. I think it was more traumatizing than my accident for the people around me. My husband told me it was nearly impossible to comprehend how a total scalp avulsion could be relatively painless.”
The story of the intervention
The story was reported in the British Medical Journal Case Reports where doctors described the stages of rescue and surgery. When the woman was rescued the paramedics have preserved the scalp inside a plastic bag tucked into another plastic bag with water and ice. The woman was transported to hospital in Odense in southern Denmark. The patient is always remained vigilant and the initial bleeding stopped spontaneously. Plastic surgeons removed the scalp from ice and cut the hair short. The scalp was placed back on the patient’s head, under anesthesia, and the doctors have immediately reconnected three blood vessels to restart blood flow. Later they stitched up the skin and the left ear: the whole operation was completed within five hours after the accident.
The size of the tiny blood vessels that the surgeons had to reconnect was 1-2 millimeters, roughly the size of a hair. The needles are very small and must be handled with a microscope: hands and arms are well positioned so as not to swing. From the operation the woman recovered well: five days later she was discharged. Six months later her hair started growing well, without signs of alopecia, which is instead a very frequent condition in such cases. The woman is regaining sensitivity to the scalp and partial function of the frontalis muscle, which allows her to raise her eyebrows. «I am slowly improving day by day and I am optimistic about my future. I thank all the health workers who have helped me along this path.
January 23, 2023 (change January 23, 2023 | 3:15 pm)
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