Hospital blames gas for blinding patients

Updated: 2016-04-15 07:04

By Wang Xiaodong(China Daily)

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Hospital blames gas for blinding patients

Perflutren and its packaging.[Photo/China Daily]

Substandard medical gas caused serious eye injuries to dozens of patients undergoing eye surgery at Peking University Third Hospital, the hospital said on Thursday.

It released a statement following media reports that 18 patients had been left blind in one eye after having surgery at the hospital in Beijing.

All of the operations were carried out in June.

Doctors had used a batch of a medical gas called perflutren, which is used during eye surgery as a temporary filler. Suspicions were raised about the quality of the gas, according to a report from China National Radio.

In its statement, Peking University Third Hospital said the problematic batch of perflutren was applied to 59 patients, resulting in eye injuries in 45 of them.

After the incident, regulatory authorities stopped the sale and use of the same batch of the product, the statement said. The gas was produced by Tianjin Jingming New Technological Development Co, the only registered supplier of the gas on the Chinese mainland.

The hospital is filing a lawsuit against the company that produced the gas, the statement said.

An additional 26 patients underwent eye surgery at Affiliated Hospital of Nantong University in Nantong, Jiangsu province, during June, where another batch of the same gas was used.

An engineer at Tianjin Jingming, surnamed Sun, said the company and the regulatory authorities had been investigating the unexpected spike in people losing their sight after surgery during the past year.

Wang Enpu, a professor specializing in eye surgery at Air Force General Hospital in Beijing, said perflutren is used as a temporary filler to puff up the hollow part of the eye during surgery. Wang said the gas helps ensure that operations go smoothly and it disappears after surgery is completed.

"However, only experienced doctors are capable of properly using the gas for eye surgeries because it expands after going into the eye," he said.

An alternative to the gas is silicon oil, but it has to be removed after surgery and can cause side effects, such as increased eye pressure, he said.

The China Food and Drug Administration said in a report dated Jan 1 that the administration sent two teams to Peking University Third Hospital and Affiliated Hospital of Nantong University in July after receiving reports of the incidents.

It ruled out irregularities during the surgeries, according to a report in