Massage pushes blood clot from ankle to lungs with fatal results

03 May 2017

A 23-year-old Delhi man lost his life after his mother massaged his leg to ease the pain from an ankle injury. In October last year, the man suffered an injury to his left ankle while playing badminton and developed deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

DVT occurrs due to the formation of blood clots in deep-seated veins and blood clots following an ankle fracture were not uncommon. The man had a cast on his ankle, which led to clot formation. On removal of the cast, a swelling was seen and the man complained of immense pain. Tests revealed a blood clot had formed in vein in the leg.

An autopsy report by AIIMS doctors that was recently published in the Medico-Legal Journal confirmed that the massage had dislodged the clot, measuring 5X1 cm, which travelled to the lungs, causing an obstruction and leading to instant death.

The report added that the well-intentioned mother was not aware of the complications of massaging the injured leg or the risk of developing pulmonary thromboembolism. The patient and his mother had not been adequately briefed by doctors.

"When the pain recurred, his mother massaged his left calf muscles. After the massage, he felt severe chest pain, breathlessness and collapsed. The clot had travelled to the lungs through blood causing a blockage and instant death," said Dr Chittaranjan Behera, associate professor of Forensic Medicine at AIIMS, according to a NDTV report which had PTI inputs.

According to Dr Sudhir Gupta, professor and head of forensic medicine at AIIMS, the youth's death should serve as a warning against massages by amateurs. "Using forceful techniques and for prolonged periods in a patient with deep vein thrombosis can lead to fatal complications," he said, Times of India reported.

According to AIIMS doctors, presence of a blood clot in the deep veins of the leg or the pulmonary artery affected nearly 70 per 1,00,000 individuals, the report stated.

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