Art and surgery don’t always mix well

“Andy Warhol got it wrong, fifteen minutes is too long…”

Jung Talent Time

I recently visited the impressive Andy Warhol photography exhibition at the AGSA. On a guided tour we were told that Andy had died before his time of complications from simple, routine gallbladder surgery. That didn’t sit well with me. During my career I have reviewed many post-operative deaths for the RACS. Few were simple and routine. A little research reveals that the Warhol cholecystectomy was a complex and formidable surgical challenge. In 1967 the artist spent months in hospital, requiring multiple laparotomies for a gunshot wound to the abdomen. Prior to seeking medical care, he had been unwell with cholecystitis for over 30 days. The surgery was hampered by an abdomen frozen with adhesions, accessing the gallbladder took many hours. The gallbladder was gangrenous, friable and highly vascular. Andy had been using heroin and speed daily for years prior to his death. Online prediction calculators of surgical mortality such as POSSUM, give Andy a 5-10% risk of death. Not exactly routine. #surgicalnightmares #letsmakelemonade

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