A woman who died after major bowel surgery might have survived had it been realised earlier she was suffering from peritonitis, an inquest heard.
Kirsty Woods, 30, from Penistone, collapsed in Barnsley Hospital and suffered a cardiac arrest 12 days after having an operation to remove most of her large bowel.
A Sheffield inquest heard from pathologist Kim Suvarna, who said Kirsty’s cause of death was peritonitis.
His post mortem examination report found there was a leak of bowel contents from a tear at the joining of two bowel sections, as well as fluid present on her abdomen.
Dr Suvarna said: “I am surprised, perhaps is the best way of putting it, that this degree of inflammation, this degree of abdominal catastrophe – which is a medical description – was not identified and dealt with at an earlier stage.”
When coroner David Urpeth asked if the situation could have been different if the problem was spotted earlier, Dr Suvarna answered: “I believe so, yes. This was a young and fit woman.”
Dr Suvarna also said he estimated the peritonitis had been present from 24 hours up to three days before Kirsty’s death.
The inquest heard Kirsty, who worked with troubled young adults and had a history of bowel complaints, was admitted to hospital on August 24, 2010, suffering from colitis.
Steroids and other medical treatment did not ease her symptoms and it was decided she would need surgery – although Kirsty was ‘reluctant’ to have the operation on September 9.
Afterwards she continued to vomit, have diarrhoea, had an increased heart rate, suffered some pain and did not make progress despite ongoing treatment.
X-rays, examinations and a CT scan did not find any signs of a perforation or peritonitis.
Surgeon Mr Theodore Offori told the inquest peritonitis was not suspected.
When asked if the CT scan should been done earlier he said that was ‘debatable’ and there were no ‘hard supporting facts’ to instigate one. When the coroner asked if he thought anything different could or should have been done, Mr Offori said: “I can’t see anything through the notes, I can’t see what additional actions could have been taken.”
The inquest, which continues today, also heard doctors thought Kirsty had a common post-surgery condition and the CT scan was consistent with that.