MEDICAL experts have taken the stand during the inquest into the 2016 death of a popular Gunnedah rugby player.
The coronial inquest into the death of father-of-three Alex Costello continued in Gunnedah Coroner's Court on Tuesday with several medical experts giving evidence.
Among Tuesday’s witnesses was emergency care specialist Dr Anna Holdgate who told the court the aortic dissection that claimed Mr Costello’s life would have been difficult for doctors to detect.
“The reason there is so much written about them (aortic dissections) is because they are difficult to diagnose and are often missed,” Dr Holdgate said.
“They’re always severe.
“In my career I would have seen a couple of dozen.”
Mr Costello died suddenly on April 9, 2016, after suffering chest pains.
The court heard prior to his death Mr Costello had been taken to Gunnedah hospital and had several tests but staff didn’t identify a heart problem.
He was transferred to the general ward, collapsed in the shower and could not be revived.
Coroner Les Mabbutt is investigating the circumstances surrounding Mr Costello’s death.
One of the questions the inquest seeks to answer is if Mr Costello should have been transferred to Tamworth hospital from Gunnedah hospital.
When asked if transferring Mr Costello would have sped up his dissection, Dr Holdgate told the court: “no”.
“I imagine from here (Gunnedah) to Tamworth would have been under the very best circumstances about an hour-and-a-half,” Dr Holdgate said.
“If he were to be transferred to John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle in two hours it would have been a miracle.”
Dr Holdgate told the court she did not believe emergency surgery would have saved Mr Costello if he had been transferred.
“In my opinion he probably wouldn’t have survived the surgery,” she said.
“The operation itself is very high risk.
“It’s a huge operation.”
The coronial inquest will resume in Gunnedah Coroner's Court on Wednesday.