Boy of 10 dies in a coma after visit to dentist

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The Independent Online
A BOY aged 10 has died after a routine visit to a dentist to have a tooth extracted. The latest tragedy comes at a time when dentists are conducting an urgent review of the use of general anaesthetics, in the hope of cutting a toll of two or three deaths each year.

Darren Denholm, from Armadale, West Lothian, went into a coma after being given a general anaesthetic and died two hours later in hospital.

It is believed he suffered a cardiac arrest in an allergic reaction.

Isla Denholm, said her son "just went to sleep and never woke up." She yesterday called for all dental anaesthetics to be carried out in hospital. A committee of the British Dental Association is reviewing the use of general anaesthesia in general dental practice with the aim of ending it in all but cases of special clinical need.

About 350,000 dental general anaesthetics are carried out in Britain each year.

About two-thirds are given to patients under 18, but only 20 per cent are given by dentists. The rest are administered by doctors, either from general medical practices or hospitals.

"Sadly, in spite of all precautions, there is still a very small number of deaths associated with dental general anaesthesia, but this is extremely rare," the BDA said.

The risk appears unrelated to age, the place of treatment, or whether the process is administered by a doctor or anaesthetist.

Anthony Kravitz, chairman of the committee conducting the review, wrote this month that any death was one too many.

"The profession needs to review whether there is still a place for general anaesthetic in general dental practice, and if so how it will be met," he said.