Boxer Mike Towell's brain bleed 'contributed' to death

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image source, SNS
image captionMike Towell died weeks after seeking help in A&E

A boxer who died after a fight had previously suffered a brain bleed which may have contributed to his death, an inquiry heard.

Mike Towell died of a brain injury, however a post mortem report also showed an undiscovered bleed.

Dr Richard Stephen Cooke said he probably suffered the chronic subdural haematoma around three weeks before seeking medical help over headaches.

He was giving evidence at a Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) into the death.

The neurosurgeon also said he backed the decision not to operate after Mr Towell's "unsurvivable injury" during the fight.

The fighter, from Dundee, collapsed in the ring in Glasgow after losing a bout to Welshman Dale Evans on 29 September 2016.

He was given medical treatment in the ring before being taken to hospital but died 24 hours later.

Weeks beforehand he had asked for a CT scan at Ninewells Hospital, but was not referred for the procedure.

Mr Cooke examined Mr Towell's annual boxing medicals, medical records, the CT scan carried out on 29 September after his collapse, as well as the post-mortem report.

The consultant said that in relation to the chronic injury he probably had it for several weeks.

He added: "My thought was it was more likely prior to his first attendance on September 11, probably three weeks before his first attendance."

Mr Cooke also told the inquiry that it was possible the boxer suffered a head injury which could have healed, but also suffered a "further injury" in the match against Evans.

The consultant said he believed the blow in the fifth bout that caused Mr Towell to fall was the punch that inflicted the injury.

Mrs Beadsworth put to him: "You believe that the chronic subdural haematoma was a factor in his death."

Mr Cooke answered: "Yes, I think it was contributory."

No chance of survival

Procurator fiscal depute Eileen Beadsworth asked if Mr Cooke could comment on the decision made not to operate on the boxer.

Mr Cooke said: "It's a decision I would have supported, the decision I would have made if I was in that same situation with a similar patient."

"This was unfortunately and sadly a fatal injury from the time that he presented at hospital.

"He was deeply unconscious, his Glasgow coma scale was four on initial presentation.

"His pupils were fixed and his CT scan was performed very quickly on admission to GRI showing evidence of what was extreme brain swelling with thin overlying subdural haematoma.

"So, the clinical and radiological features unfortunately indicated this was a fatal and unsurvivable injury and that treatment would not have achieved anything."

The Glasgow Coma scale is an objective method by which a person's level of consciousness is recorded and ranges from three to 15.

The inquiry before Sheriff Principal Turnbull will continue next month.

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