Stabbing Pain in Chest – Doctor Finds Dental Brace in Gut – After 10 years in Bowel – Orthodontic Abdominal Piercing. A women in Australia could not remember having swallowed anything unusual but acute pains in her lower abdomen revealed the horrific consequences of an unknown ingestion over 10 years earlier (Report contains explicit medical photographs).
This week BMJ Case Reports (BMJ – formerly the British Medical Journal) published a report in which Dr Talia Shepherd described an unusual discovery in a female patient with severe abdominal pain.
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Initially when the patient visited the hospital her medical adviser thought the problem was related to her gall bladder. They were able to alleviate the pain and send the woman home. She returned to the hospital two days later in absolute agony. The pain was so extreme that the doctor decided to give her a CT scan. This uncovered a long thin object which appeared to be embedded in her small intestine (see photo of CT scan).
Initially the physician thought this might be a fish bone – it had pierced the small bowel in several places causing the intestine to turn in on itself and prevented its normal movement – a condition known as Volvulus. If left untreated this can restrict blood flow to the area, eventually leading to the death and decay of this vital organ. A decision was made to open up the patient immediately to determine the exact cause of the damage and hopefully identify an appropriate course of action. The photo below shows what the medical team found when they opened up the woman’s abdomen (Medical photos: kind acknowledgements to BMJ Case Studies and Dr Talia Shepherd).
The piercing of the small intestine and the origin of the Volvulus was not a fish bone but a 7 cm piece of wire from an orthodontic brace.
What was particularly unusual about this finding was that it was 10 years since this 30 year old Australian lady had last worn a brace. She could not recall ever ingesting or losing part of her brace. The doctor assumed that the piece of metal had been sitting in the woman’s intestine for at least 10 years. It had only caused considerable pain recently, presumably when it pierced the woman’s small bowel.
It is very unusual for a piece of orthodontic brace to be swallowed and lead to serious problems in the gut. A few years ago doctors on Basel (Switzerland) identified what looked like a frog on the X-ray of a seven year old child’s throat. It turned out to be a frog shaped pendant that the child had swallowed and was removed by endoscopy under anaesthetic (see below for link to this and related X-ray pics).
Coins are among the most common metal objects swallowed by children although the slide show provided via the link below includes a number of less common articles found in the gut including (as well as the frog) a fork, a ring, and a spring. Tongue piercings pose a significant risk of accidental swallowing. One particularly dangerous group of items frequently swallowed by young children are small ‘button’ shaped batteries. These can leak dangerous chemicals into the gut and can also cause damage (‘burning’) due to their ability to generate an electric current. The link to the X-ray slide show with some of these unusual items found in the gut can be found here. (The slide show has been put together by the Sueddeutschezeitung, a national German newspaper)
If you do swallow something that gives you cause for concern (or someone you knows does – like a child) seek medical advice as quickly as possible. Enjoy your lunch (but swallow carefully)!
If you found this article interesting please consider taking a look at some of my other recent reports on similar subjects.
Just click on the titles below:
…starting with some fun related articles:
You can also find some of my more humorous reports in the Alpine Press section of this site using the link here.
some here is some more serious stuff:
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