Sometimes health problems take years to form. But when we start experiencing painful symptoms, we never suspect it stems from something we ate years ago in high school. But for one woman, who is now 30-years-old, it was a high school meal that she enjoyed more than ten years before that caused her to have severe stomach pains that warranted medical attention. When the doctors took a closer look, they suspected that she was suffering from an ulcer or irritable bowel syndrome or some other painful problem thousands of Americans experience every year. But the truth was much more shocking and close to home.
After running all the tests for these common GI problems, the results all came back negative. And then a doctor noticed that the woman had a faster than normal heart rate. Could the cause be something more shocking?
Doctors were forced to look deeper. They analyzed her vital signs and then ran an ultrasound on her liver and gallbladder. They even looked into her bile ducts. But nothing was abnormal. They needed to know more. They asked her all sorts of questions. But their most urgent one was to see whether she had undergone surgery. The symptoms were consistent with a negligent surgeon who might have left a foreign object in her body.
But the CT scan revealed a metallic object was left in her body.
They released only later that it was a 2 and a half inch long piece of metal. When she underwent surgery to get the foreign object removed they couldn’t believe what it was. It was part of her dental braces. The wire must have fallen off her teeth and went through her digestive tract and got caught. But she hadn’t had braces for more than a decade.
Doctors were stunned, but the proof was there.
“The case is so unique is because normally if you swallow something like that, it presents earlier,” doctor Talia Shepherd told Popular Science.
The unnamed woman had no idea she swallowed part of her braces. The pain only appeared recently. That was because the piece of wire had caused the woman’s intestine to twist up around itself.
“We were all a bit dumbfounded,” Shepherd told the magazine. “It wasn’t what I was expecting to find at all.”
The surgeons removed the metal and helped the woman heal.
Shepherd admits that stuff like this can happen.
“The other thing that we see not infrequently are fish bones,” added Shepherd. “So, people swallow fish bones and then perforate through the bowel, and I thought possible that’s what it was. But looking at the density on the CT scan the radiologist said it was something metallic.”
But dental braces was a first.
“In terms of objects that people have swallowed, I’ve seen some pretty weird things,” Shepherd said, “But we’ll leave it to people’s imaginations. The case is so unique is because normally if you swallow something like that, it presents earlier.”
What do you think about the cause of this woman’s stomach pain?