Doctors were left stunned after they discovered nine nails lodged in a patient’s abdomen. She was then given a laxative to help her poop them out. According to The Sun UK, the 20-year-old woman, from New Delhi, India, swallowed the nails with a cup of toilet cleaner in a failed suicide attempt.
The next day she went to A&E with severe stomach pain. X-rays revealed multiple nails in her stomach and upper abdomen.
Instead of removing the nails in surgery doctors prescribed her psyllium husk, a plant product that acts as a laxative, with water or milk and bananas, according to the BMJ case report.
After 11 days she had pooped out all of the nails without any complications and was discharged from hospital. But three weeks later she went back to hospital complaining of vomiting and a lack of appetite.
Doctors used an endoscopy – a small rubber tube with a camera that’s inserted down the throat – to see what was going on.
And they discovered she had pyloric stenosis, meaning the muscle in her stomach that holds food in before it is passed into the intestines had been damaged by the nails.
The muscle had become thick enough to block food from passing through the stomach, causing her to be sick every time she ate.
Doctors had to remove the damaged part of the stomach and reattach it to the small intestine.
She was discharged six days later and, at the time the case report was published, had not made any more suicide attempts.
It is not uncommon for a surgeon in the emergency department to be presented with a patient with a history of ingestion of a foreign body, either accidentally or voluntarily,” the authors of the report said.
Although patients come from all ages, children who have swallowed coins, toys, safety pins or small batteries accidentally contribute approximately 80 per cent to the sum.
Adults usually present with food boluses, meat and fish bones, denture parts, nails, pins, screws and toothpicks as foreign bodies.
Among the adult population, repeated voluntary foreign body ingestion is usually observed in those who are alcoholic, are suffering from a psychiatric illness or those who get some secondary gain by doing this, such as prisoners in the attempt to leave the prison.
The doctors note it is not uncommon for foreign bodies to cause damage to the oesophagus and digestive tracts, especially if the are sharp.
Diagnosis of foreign body ingestion is often delayed and becomes only apparent when symptoms begin to appear.
The young, mentally challenged or psychiatric patients often present with choking, refusal to eat, vomiting, drooling, wheezing, blood stained saliva or respiratory distress.
Oropharyngeal or a proximal oesophageal perforation will usually present with swelling, erythema, tenderness or crepitus in the neck region.
Perforation of the stomach and abdominal gut will present with pain, tenderness and guarding and/or rigidity of the abdomen. Signs of peritonitis are usually conspicuous.
If a patient presents with any of these symptoms doctors should act immediately, they concluded.