Renowned PH forensic tells Pacquiao to retire

Posted at 12/10/2012 7:24 PM | Updated as of 12/10/2012 7:25 PM

MANILA - A renowned Filipino forensic scientist is not convinced with the CT scan results clearing Manny Pacquiao following his knockout loss to Mexican foe Juan Manuel Marquez.

In an interview with ANC on Monday, Dr. Raquel Fortun of the Department of Pathology of the University of the Philippines College of Medicine could only shake her head when told that Pacquiao is unwilling to quit boxing despite the brutal loss.

“Ang nakakatakot yung chronicity. Repeated trauma. Boxing is really dangerous because it is the head that is purposely being hit all the time. Negative man yung CT scan e kasi yung hinahanap diyan yung overt bleeding, yung mga clots,” she told ANC Top Story.

Dr. Raquel Fortun, Department of Pathology of the University of the Philippines College of Medicine

She added: “With every blow to the head, naaalog yung utak mo e. May damage yan. Ang nakakatakot yung cumulative.”

Medical experts say head injuries are common to boxers and can lead to long-term tissue damage as well as large clots within the brain. Head injuries have been blamed for the Parkinson's disease on boxing legend Muhammad Ali.

Closer to home is the fate suffered by Filipino boxer Zeta Celestino Gorres in 2009. Gorres collapsed in the ring after defeating challenger Luis Melendez and had to undergo surgery to remove a blood clot in the brain.

The incident forced Gorres to retire from boxing.

Fortun said repeated head trauma could lead to subtle manifestations such as a change in behavior or attitude.

“Minsan nagiging mas aggressive daw or something. It can be subtle. Maybe for the boxer, hindi niya mapapansin. Pero ang problema kasi hindi natin makita yung nangyayari sa loob. E ang nakikita natin manifestations, yung signs and symptoms,” she said.

Chronic trauma to the brain

She said severe head trauma could also lead to Alzheimer’s disease or a form of dementia that worsens over time.

She said several studies have been done on the effect of chronic trauma or repeated hits to the head among athletes, particularly boxers and football players.

Juan Manuel Marquez (L) of Mexico connects on Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines during their welterweight fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada December 8, 2012. REUTERS/Steve Marcus

Fortun said the knockout punch that hit Pacquiao was actually 2 hits: when Marquez’s fist connected with Pacquiao’s face and when the boxing champ fell face down on the canvass.

“Delikado yun. Pag naalog yan yung utak mo kasi hindi fixed na fixed yan sa bungo so pag naaalog ang utak, may napu-putol putol na connections. May mga small hemorrhages ka,” she said.

She said a severe blow to the head could damage the dura mater, which is a membrane that surrounds the brain. Once damaged, it could lead to a subdural hematoma.

In the case of Gorres, Fortun said the effect of severe head trauma was immediate. Another danger of chronic trauma is the breaking of the temporal bone, which could damage an artery.

Fortun said CT scans can only see the large blood cots in the subdural or epidural.

“What’s frightening are the small hemorrhages. Ito ang tanda ng nasusugatan nga yung mga connection, yung mga brain cells,” she said.

Pacquiao’s seizure

The forensic expert expressed alarm over reports that Pacquiao allegedly had a slight seizure after falling unconscious from Marquez’s hammer blow to the head.

“Nakakatakot yun kasi the fact na nawalan ka ng malay, yun yung concussion. Yung sinabing nangisay baka yun yung sa doctor ay seizure. The fact na malakas yung tama sa kanya, tapos bumagsak pa siya tapos nawalan siya ng consciousness, that’s not good,” she said.

She pointed out that the brain is highly specialized, noting that brain tissue and brain cells cannot regenerate.

“It’s not like the skin or the liver na pwedeng gumawa ng bagong cells. In the brain, that’s it. It’s scar tissue. Hindi maganda yun na marami kang peklat diyan. Kahit papaano magkakaroon yan ng effect sa behavior, sa sensorium, thinking…”

The forensic expert said an ounce of prevention to head trauma would be best for the People's Champ.

Asked how Pacquiao could implement prevention, she said: “Retirement.”

The punch that Marquez delivered to Pacquiao's face was so strong it took ring officials and medical personnel several minutes before Pacquiao could be revived.

He was taken to a Las Vegas hospital where his CT scan showed no sign of blood clots.