Chainsaw in Neck of Tree Worker Removed by Trauma Surgeons

Image: Chainsaw in Neck of Tree Worker Removed by Trauma Surgeons X-ray of a chain saw blade embedded in the neck of a patient, at Allegheny General Hospital, in Pittsburgh.

Wednesday, 02 Apr 2014 02:12 PM

By Clyde Hughes

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Pittsburgh trauma surgeons on Monday removed a chainsaw blade embedded two inches into the neck of a 21-year-old man who had been trimming some trees. The saw blade clearly seen on x-rays nearly cut his vital carotid artery.

James Valentine was working for Alder Tree Service on Monday, said the newspaper. He was in a tree when the saw "kicked back" and cut into his neck while still running, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Valentine told the Tribune-Review that three co-workers helped him from the tree and emergency crews transported him to Allegheny General Hospital.

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"I definitely feel lucky," Valentine told the newspaper after the surgery, sporting 30 stitches and five staples in his neck. "It was just a freak accident."

Greg Porter, assistant director of Ross/West View Emergency Medical Service Authority, told the Tribune-Review they took the saw apart, leaving the blade embedded in the man's neck, believing that removing it would have caused him to lose a large amount of blood.

"Everything was going through my head – a lot of stuff," Valentine told the Post-Gazette. "The first instinct is to turn off the saw."

Allegheny General trauma surgeon Christine Toevs told the Tribune-Review that the blade missed Valentine's carotid artery by a centimeter and didn't hit his esophagus, trachea or spinal cord, which could have triggered a stroke or caused him to bleed to death.

Toevs told CNN that because of smart work by Valentine's co-workers and emergency crews not to remove the blade, he actually experience minimal blood loss.

"There are 100 things that can go wrong with an injury this big," said Toevs. "(The saw) blessedly missed every important part."

Becca Valentine, the victim's sister, said the family is relieved that her brother survived the strange accident.

"He looks more like himself, he's walking and talking today," said Becca Valentine. "We can't believe it at all."

Adler's operations manager Domenic Pisani told the Tribune-Review that he suffered a similar injury eight years ago when the chain saw abruptly kicked back into his chest. He said his employees receive extensive safety training before taking the field.

"It all paid off," Pisani said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that there are about 36,000 people treated in emergency rooms annually for chainsaw accidents.

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