When 35-year-old Lakshmi (name changed), was brought to the internal medicine department at Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital, Chennai, in December 2013 with issues of loss of appetite and weight loss, doctors thought she could be suffering from anaemia.
But scanning results of her abdomen shocked them. They spotted several sharp metal objects of varied sizes lodged in her gut. The woman, who had been on medication for a mental illness, was also physically weak, they found.
AdvertisementAfter a detailed case study, the doctors decided for surgery on the woman and removed 152 metal objects weighing 478 grams from her stomach where they had coalesced into a tumour-like mound
Surgical gastroenterologist Dr S M Chandramohan said that an X-ray of her abdomen revealed iron nails and other foreign objects in it. "As the patient was anaemic, she was given a protein-filled diet and prepared for the surgery. Since the objects seemed sharp we could not bring them out with the help of endoscope (a diagnostic medical device also used for retrieving foreign objects from the gastrointestinal tract) as it would cause perforations. So, we decided to go for a surgery," he said
The surgery took nine hours to complete. Dr Chandramohan said that they found an array of odd objects when they explored the abdomen. "We removed 152 metallic objects including small and large nails, screws, broken bangle pieces, coins, a coat button, a hair pin, a key, a button battery and a magnet. Surprisingly, the sharp objects did not cause any serious damage to her organs," he added.
Lakshmi said she could not remember swallowing any of the objects. Health experts from the government hospital noted that while old people accidentally swallowed dentures, swallowing coins and seeds was common in children.
In the past five years, the hospital has conducted surgeries on 64 patients ranging from 2 years to 76 years of age who have been treated for swallowing foreign bodies.