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Tuesday, October 5, 1999 Published at 16:26 GMT 17:26 UK

UK: Wales

Inquest told Zavaroni 'died of pneumonia'

Lena was admitted to University Hospital of Wales last month

An inquest has been opened and adjourned into the death of former child star Lena Zavaroni.

The hearing in Cardiff revealed the cause of death of the 35-year-old singer was bronchial pneumonia.

Coroner Dr Lawrence Addicott said further tests were being carried out to assess possible links with a brain operation Ms Zavaroni underwent at the University Hospital of Wales.

"At this stage there are no obvious indications that the surgery was directly related to her death but further investigation will take place," said Mr Addicott.

[ image: The child star had an eating disorder by the age of 13]
The child star had an eating disorder by the age of 13
The inquest heard from coroner's investigating officer Derek Hassan that the singer's body had been formally identified by her father Victor.

No members of the family were present at Tuesday's hearing.

Mr Addicott issued a burial certificate and adjourned the hearing until December 8 to await the results of further investigations by the pathologist.

They are expected to take several weeks to complete.

The Scottish-born star died after the rare operation in a final bid to cure her depression and anorexia.

Ms Zavaroni underwent the operation two weeks ago but developed a blood infection which caused heart failure.

Her father Victor, aged 60, was at her bedside when she died.

Divorcee Miss Zavaroni of Tower Heights, Hoddesdon, Herts is to be buried in Hertfordshire but no funeral details have yet been announced.

She found stardom as a 10-year-old on Opportunity Knocks but after years of illness died weighingjust three-and-a half stone.

The operation Ms Zavaroni undertook involved cutting into the brain and was considered to be low-risk.

[ image:  ]

It was developed in the 1930s, when the medical establishment embraced it enthusiastically.

It remained popular until the late 1950s when, with the introduction of effective drugs, the operation became a rarely-performed procedure.

Doctors wishing to perform a leucotomy now must first get a second opinion and then permission from the Mental Health Act Commission.

A spokesman for the University Hospital of Wales and Llandough Hospital NHS Trust, which runs the 800-bed hospital, revealed the technique had been carried out there for more than six years.

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