Vancouver doctors report rare finding of man whose blood was green

  1. Thu Jun 7, 11:17 PM

    By Helen Branswell

    TORONTO (CP) - The green blood came as a bit of a shock to Dr. Alana Flexman and her colleagues when they tried to put an arterial line into a patient about to undergo surgery in Vancouver's St. Paul's Hospital.

    The 42-year-old man was already a bit of a medical departure. He'd fallen asleep while kneeling, and developed compartment syndrome in both legs.

    The potentially dangerous condition involves a buildup of pressure in deep muscle tissue - in this case in the legs - and unless the pressure was relieved, permanent nerve damage could have been sustained.

    As surgical staff prepared the man for the middle-of-the-night emergency operation, Flexman and a colleague attempted to insert a line into a wrist artery.

    Arterial lines are used to monitor blood pressure during an operation; any blood that flows when the line is inserted into the artery should be vivid red, the sign it has been oxygenated in the heart.

    But in this case, which occurred in October 2005, it was not.

    "During insertion, we normally see arterial blood come out. That's how we know we're in the right place. And normally that blood is bright red, as you would expect in an artery," Flexman said in an interview Thursday.

    "But in his case, the blood kept coming back as dark green instead of bright red."

    "It was sort of a green-black. ... Like an avocado skin maybe."

    The reaction in the room? "We were very concerned, obviously," said Flexman, who is training in anesthesia at the hospital.

    Flexman and her colleagues report on the unusual case in this week's issue of the journal The Lancet.

    Samples were rushed off to the lab, which quickly ruled out a dangerous condition called methemoglobin, in which the hemoglobin in the blood can't bind to oxygen.

    While the lab worked, so did the operating team. The man came through the surgery well.

    The next day the lab reported it had detected sulfhemoglobin, a condition thought to be triggered by some medications.

    "It's so rare that we don't have a perfect understanding how it happens, but some drug donates a sulfur group that binds to the hemoglobin molecule and prevents it from binding to oxygen," Flexman explains. "And that gives it the green colour."

    She and her colleagues believe the condition may have been brought on by the man's migraine medication, sumatriptan, which he was taking in higher-than-advised doses, though they can't prove it.

  2. That would be soooo weird to see! Aliens!! haha...
  3. Wow, that is just crazy. You learn something new everyday.
  4. This typically happens around Boston and Chicago once every year (usually March 17th).[​IMG]
  5. LOL! Aliens! That is so weird....
  6. ^^ I know!

    Blue blood is a figure of speech. Blood is never literally blue.

    (Although, if your blood is not getting enough oxygen, your skin will have a bluish tint.)

    Nobody's ever seen green blood before, and that's why there's a news item about it.
  7. that's effed up.
  8. i would freak if i was the doc