- Former Ferrari and Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne died at age 66 after having shoulder surgery, it was announced Wednesday.
- Though surgical procedures are common, there are a number of serious complications that can follow surgery.
- Potentially fatal complications include hemorrhage, shock, blood clots, and infections.
Sergio Marchionne, former CEO at Fiat Chrysler and Ferrari, has died at age 66 after he fell ill following a shoulder surgery.
It’s still unclear whether Marchionne’s death was caused by an illness or condition that was more severe than had been previously reported, or if it was the result of complications from his surgical procedure.
As common as surgery is, it’s important to remember that there are serious risks involved, and that resulting complications can lead to discomfort, serious medical conditions, or death.
The American College of Surgeons defines surgery as any medical procedure “performed for the purpose of structurally altering the human body by incision or destruction of tissues.” So by nature, it’s invasive. Physically altering the body with a scalpel, needles, radiation, lasers, or other tools can all result in side effects.
As Stanford Health Care explains, many people experience a range of typical post-operation discomforts. These include nausea and vomiting related to anesthesia, soreness in the throat if a patient had to breathe through a tube, other soreness and swelling, restlessness and sleeplessness, thirst, constipation, and flatulence.
Stanford lists the most common serious complications that can follow surgery, citing the American Medical Association. Specific types of surgeries and a patient’s personal history all play a role here, but many of these common complications can follow most surgeries.
These complications include shock, which is a critical condition defined by a dangerous reduction in blood flow. When the body’s circulatory system cannot maintain adequate blood flow, patients may need to be kept warm, given infusions of fluid or blood, given medication or oxygen, and to have blood loss stopped. If there’s any hemorrhage, the bleeding – external or internal – can cause shock and needs to be treated.
After surgery, patients may also experience blood clotting, especially in deep-lying veins – that condition is known as deep-vein thrombosis. These blood clots can travel through the bloodstream and block the heart, causing heart failure, or can block blood flow to the lungs.
Surgery can lead to other lung complications as well. Anesthesia can inhibit breathing during surgery. After surgery, a lack of deep breathing can cause serious problems.
People can also experience allergic reactions or liver toxicity from anesthesia, though these side effects are rare.
Infections are also a serious risk after any operation. People who are recovering from an injury or illness tend to have weakened immune systems, and dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria can be found in hospital settings.
We don’t know whether any of these common complications or another illness played a role in Marchionne’s death. But because of all these potential complications, it’s important to avoid unnecessary surgeries and to always make sure patients are carefully monitored after any procedure.
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