BMJ Case Reports 2012; doi:10.1136/bcr.11.2011.5194
  • Learning from errors

Death from axillary haemorrhage during haemodialysis in a patient with a history of microscopic polyangiitis

  1. Ken-ichi Yoshida3
  1. 1Section of Forensic Medicine, Graduate School of Medical and Dental Sciences, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Tokyo, Japan
  2. 2Department of Pathology, Graduate School of Medicine, University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
  3. 3Department of Forensic Medicine, Graduate School of Medicine, University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
  1. Correspondence to Dr Kana Unuma, unumlegm{at}


An older female with a history of microscopic polyangiitis underwent haemodialysis through an end-to-side anastomosis between the left basilica vein and brachial artery. During the last haemodialysis session, repeated punctures induced haemorrhage that required brachial compression. Twenty min posthaemodialysis, haemorrhage had expanded from the axilla to the left lateral thorax. Autopsy disclosed axillary haematoma. The haemorrhage was not derived from punctured vessels or the left axillary artery. Although neither an alveolar nor a glomerular microscopic polyangiitis lesion was detected, fragility of the axillary small vessels due to microscopic polyangiitis, ageing, atherosclerosis and steroid therapy were underlying factors in the haematoma. Aspirin and heparin may have promoted haemorrhage, while shunt vessel stenosis with disturbed flow may have increased the axillary vessel pressure when the shunt vessels were compressed for haemostasis. This is the first report of a death due to haemorrhage from ruptured axillary vessels related to haemodialysis or microscopic polyangiitis.


  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

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