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Patient left with rotting wound after unnecessary mastectomy, court hears

Paterson is alleged to have told her she had Dercum's disease - a condition the surgeon had only seen twice before in his career. Photo: BPM.

A patient was left with a rotting wound after an unnecessary mastectomy carried out by surgeon Ian Paterson after he told her she was suffering from a rare breast condition, a court heard.

Judith Conduit told jurors she was rushed to another hospital after a blood clot was discovered close to her heart during the procedure in July 2001 - and another surgeon did not have the correct implements to remove it.

She said the wound on her left breast was "black and rotting" following the operation and she went to the hospital 94 times in the following 12 months as part of her recovery.

Paterson is alleged to have told her she had Dercum's disease - a condition the surgeon had only seen twice before in his career - after a number of procedures had been carried out to remove lumps.

Mrs Conduit said: "Paterson said he could not keep removing the lumps because he was removing too much breast tissue and the only way forward would be to have a bilateral mastectomy."

A jury at Nottingham Crown Court was told Paterson lied to his alleged victims. Credit: ITV News.

Paterson is standing trial after denying 20 counts of wounding with intent against nine women and one man relating to procedures he carried out between 1997 and 2011.

Jurors have previously heard claims he carried out completely unnecessary operations for "obscure motives" that may have included a desire to "earn extra money."

Mrs Conduit, then aged 47, had seen Paterson in May and September 2000 when he removed lumps from her right and left breasts, which turned out to be benign fatty tissue, the court heard.

She told the jury, which has been reduced to six men and five women, at Nottingham Crown Court:

"I think it was at the normal six-week check-up. On that visit there were more lumps that had appeared in my breast and it was on that occasion Mr Paterson suggested I might have Dercum's, which he explained tome was a very, very rare condition. He said in all his years as a surgeon, I was the third person he had diagnosed with it. He told me there was no known cause and no known cure, and that the other two ladies who he had diagnosed with it had had mastectomies."

– Mrs Conduit.
Paterson practised at Spire Healthcare. Credit: ITV News.

Mrs Conduit later went into hospital for tests on the lumps and stayed overnight, with Paterson returning in the morning saying the tests had confirmed Dercum's.

Speaking about the lumps, she said: "They were uncomfortable but they were not driving me up the wall with pain."

Mrs Conduit had discussed having implants after the mastectomy, but Paterson said he did not like using them and that she should have reconstruction using tissue from the muscle in her back, even if the procedure was more complex.

The first operation on her right breast in May 2001 "went okay", Mrs Conduit said, but the second operation on her left breast two months later had considerable difficulties.

The patient remained in hospital for 10 days following the operation, and she said:

"The reason for that being that during the operation when they did the reconstruction I had a blood clot very close to the heart. I was told afterwards that the surgeon had not got the correct implements to remove the clot."

– Mrs Conduit.
Mrs Conduit told the jury she had to have a blue light escort to Solihull Hospital. Credit: ITV News.

She told the jury she had to have a blue light escort to Solihull Hospital. She found another lump in October 2005 which was scanned, with Paterson telling her: "If I had not done what I had done, I would be telling you without a doubt you would have breast cancer."

However, three years later, following the discovery of another lump, Mrs Conduit went to Solihull Hospital for it to be removed on the NHS. She said: "I was given the results that the lump was benign and there was breast tissue left. "I believed for 10 years I had no breast tissue left because I was assured Ian Paterson had removed it all and I would never get breast cancer."

In cross-examination by defence QC Nicholas Johnson asked her about the various appointments and operations she had had over the years.

He asked: "Do you think your memory may be playing tricks on you after 17 years?" Mrs Conduit replied: "Not at all."

Paterson of Altrincham, Greater Manchester, who was formerly employed by Heart of England NHS Trust and also practised at Spire Healthcare, denies 20 counts of wounding with intent.

The trial continues.

Read more: Breast surgeon accused of conducting 'completely unnecessary' operations

Breast surgeon pleads not guilty to maliciously wounding patients