Update on Farrah Fawcett

It was learned today that Farrah Fawcett’s  hospitalization was due to hematoma, a complication of a small procedure she had done in Germany, and not because of her cancer. She may be going home in a few days.  Her physician, Lawrence Piro (who just happens to have been a medical school classmate of mine) is quoted by People magazine as saying:

“There have been some photographs that have been widely published of Farrah Fawcett in a wheelchair. The reason she was in that wheelchair is because she had a small procedure while in Germany and left for the airport soon after. She could have stayed in Germany to recuperate for a day or two but she was really very anxious to come home.”

As a result, he said, “she took a nine-hour flight right after that procedure. It turned out that the procedure caused a small amount of bleeding in one of the muscles of her abdomen, making a hematoma, which was quite painful. Actually, it was painful for her to walk, which is why she was in that wheelchair. And that pain, which was coming from the hematoma, had nothing directly to do with the cancer.”

A hematoma is a collection of blood outside a blood vessel. It is generally the result of hemorrhage (bleeding). If this bleeding occurs in an enclosed space, the filling of the space stretches it, and can be quite painful. With time, the blood gets reabsorbed and the hematoma resolves. The pressure of the hematoma can push on other important structures and indeed it was an epidural hematomca that led to Natasha Richardson’s death.

Mark Boguski, M.D., Ph.D. is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and is a member of the Society for Participatory Medicine, "a movement in which networked patients shift from being mere passengers to responsible drivers of their health" and in which professional health care providers encourage "empowered patients" and value them as full partners in managing their health and wellness.

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