Former CNN Journalist’s Arm Was Amputated After Freak Accident

Severe condition that required extreme measures originated from mundane injury

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Robert Severi / AP

Miles O'Brien says his left arm was amputated above the elbow following after an apparently minor injury turned serious.

Former CNN correspondent Miles O’Brien has opened up about how a minor injury to his arm during a reporting trip resulted in the emergency amputation of his limb.

According to O’Brien’s account, posted on his blog, following a reporting trip to Japan and the Philippines earlier this month he was stacking cases full of equipment in an airport when he accidentally dropped one of the boxes on his left forearm.

“It hurt, but I wasn’t all ‘911’ about it. It was painful and swollen but I figured it would be okay without any medical intervention. Maybe a little bit of denial?” wrote O’Brien on his personal blog published on Tuesday.

The following day as his arm continued to swell and feel painful, O’Brien visited a doctor who suspected he might be suffering from Acute Compartment Syndrome, which causes an increase in pressure inside an enclosed space within the body. The condition can effectively cut off blood flow, leading to serious health risks.

The doctor then recommended O’Brien to undergo a fasciotomy, lacerating the muscles to relieve the pressure. However, during the operation his blood pressure dropped and the surgeon made the snap decision to amputate his left arm above the elbow.

“It’s been a challenging week dealing with the phantom pain, the vicissitudes of daily life with one hand and the worries about what lies ahead,” wrote O’Brien. “But I am alive and I’m grateful for that.”


Interesting article for once and educational.


Found this article "Compartment Syndrome: Swelling out of control" by Fred Flandry, MD, FACS
Columbus, Georgia
"In a few brief hours, an arm or leg can be damaged to the point at which amputation is necessary. Although rare, compartment syndromes can occur without warning, after a musculoskeletal injury or surgery. Once swelling begins, your physician has only hours to intervene to prevent permanent damage. Compartment syndromes literally represent swelling out of control; however, this swelling is not visible to the eye because it occurs deep inside the limb. The painful condition results when swelling occurs within a group of muscles, nerves, and blood vessels within the arms, legs, feet, or buttocks enclosed within a membrane called fascia (Fig. 1). The fascia is tough and does not easily expand; therefore, when swelling occurs it causes pressure to build within the fascial compartment and the contents of the compartment can be damaged quickly."