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A case of fatal internal jugular vein perforation during nasogastric tube insertion.

Nasogastric tube (NGT) insertion is a routine procedure in the management of surgical patients. We report the second case of internal jugular vein perforation during NGT insertion. A 79-year-old man presented with diffuse abdominal pain secondary to a perforated viscus. Abdominal CT revealed pneumoperitoneum, necessitating emergent exploratory laparotomy. On post-operative Day 7, the patient developed mild abdominal distension and subjective nausea for which NGT placement was ordered for decompression. Tube placement was confirmed by insufflation of air without aspiration of gastric contents. Output from the NGT upon placement revealed frank blood. The patient then developed respiratory distress requiring intubation, followed by a fatal arrhythmia. Post-mortem exam revealed the trajectory of the NGT through the pharyngeal wall into the right internal jugular vein. This case illustrates the importance of systematic evaluation of all procedures, as the outcome resulted from failure to recognize the initial error in tube placement.

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