Health News

Athlete, 18, nearly bled to death after swallowing a TOOTHPICK

Professional athlete, 18, nearly bleeds to death after swallowing a TOOTHPICK which punctured his intestine and stayed there for three weeks

  • The anonymous man didn’t remember swallowing the 7.5cm (3ins) toothpick
  • It perforated his large intestine and lodged in an artery for 20 days
  • When surgeons pulled it out it triggered ‘life-threatening bleeding’
  • The case report was published in the New England Journal of Medicine 

A professional athlete nearly died when he swallowed a toothpick and it became lodged in his intestine and punctured an artery.

The 18-year-old in Boston, Massachusetts, lived with the 7.5cm (three inches) long wooden spike in his internal organs for three weeks before doctors found it.

While travelling to train with his team the man went to hospital after developing pain in his stomach and back, a fever, nausea and diarrhoea with blood in it.

Medics couldn’t find anything the first time he went to a hospital, but 20 days later they discovered the toothpick which, when removed, triggered ‘life-threatening bleeding’.

Doctors removed the 7.5cm wooden toothpick from the man’s intestine – they reported it had been lodged in his colon for nearly three weeks and caused his pain and diarrhoea

The toothpick had perforated his intestine and poked into an artery – when surgeons pulled it out it triggered ‘life-threatening’ bleeding 

A report from the Massachusetts General Hospital revealed the luck escape of the teenager, whose name, sport and team are unknown.

At one point he had a body temperature of 40.6°C (105.08°F) – far higher than the threshold for a fever (38°C/100.4°F).

He had pain in his back and side, lost his appetite and repeatedly found blood in his faeces, according to the report in the New England Journal of Medicine.

  • ‘Supplements do NOTHING but damage your wallet’: Millions of…

    Hospital pharmacies are more likely to get BURGLED if there…

    Don’t want to stuff yourself with chocolate after the gym?…

    Woman, 23, born with a crooked back gains two inches in…

Share this article

Some 20 days after he first saw a doctor the man was admitted to Massachusetts General in Boston.

Doctors did various tests and discovered the toothpick was in his large intestine, 25cm (nine inches) away from his rectum.

He had no memory of swallowing the stick but it had perforated his bowel and, when removed, it triggered ‘life-threatening bleeding’.

Dr Martin Rosenthal said in the report: ‘Because of life-threatening bleeding, the patient was urgently taken to a hybrid operating room, which is equipped with a variety of advanced medical devices.’

Surgeons then stemmed the bleeding from the artery and operated to repair his colon.

In this illustration, the medics showed how the toothpick had travelled almost the entire way through the man’s digestive system before becoming stuck in his large intestine

As well as the stick, the man had a blood infection caused by the bacteria Klebsiella pneumoniae, which usually live in the gut but cause illness when they leak out.

After two surgeries, antibiotics and 10 days in hospital, he made a good enough recovery to go home, with another three weeks’ worth of antibiotics.

Dr Fabian Scheid, who helped treat the patient, said: ‘The patient did well after surgery and was discharged on the 10th hospital day, six days after the second surgery.

‘At the time of discharge, he was able to walk without assistance.’

He added: ‘At the direction of the team’s internist, additional follow-up was arranged with the physical therapy, vascular surgery, general surgery, and infectious disease services.’

The man managed to get back to exercising after six weeks and, seven months, later played in his first professional game – although the journal did not reveal which sport.

‘He continues to have a substantial role in his sport,’ the report said.

The doctors warned the severity of the man’s injuries was not unusual and swallowing toothpicks carries a high risk of complications.

There is a 79 per cent chance of puncturing an internal tissue, and a 10 per chance of dying, the report said.


A man in China has had a toothpick removed from his heart after allegedly swallowing the sharp object by accident while out drinking. 

The 29-year-old patient, known by his surname Zhou, told reporters he had the habit of putting a toothpick in his drinking glass to differentiate it from the others’, but he had likely swallowed the toothpick along with the alcohol one day a few years ago.

Doctors said the toothpick, six centimetres (2.4 inches) long, was found in Mr Zhou’s right atrium. It is believed that the toothpick had been drawn into the man’s air passage and pierced through the wall of his right lung before sticking into his heart. 

‘Excessive growth’ had been found in Mr Zhou’s heart during a medical scan (left), and doctors were shocked to see a toothpick (right) in the patient’s right atrium during surgery in China

Surgeons in the city of Nanning in southern China’s Guangxi Province, made the shocking discovery by accident when they were performing an open chest operation on the patient on January 9, according to Nanning Evening News. 

It is reported that Mr Zhou started to suffer from poor health about three to four years ago and had spent more than 200,000 yuan (£22,700) on seeking medical advice. 

He had suffered from regular lung inflammation and high fever, but doctors had never been able to treat his illness properly.  

Source: Read Full Article