Foreign Objects

When Surgeons Find Knives
and Chopsticks In Your Skull

We hate to be the ones to tell you but when someone complains about intense headaches for years, they may have something lodged in their skulls. For knife blades, chopsticks, and all sorts of blunt objects are more commonly found in the heads of people from all over the world than you’re led to believe. And most of the victims don’t even know they are carrying them.
Take Li Fu, from the Yunnan Province, China, for instance. Nobody took his complains about constant migraines too seriously, until he went to see a doctor about them. A routine X-Ray test showed he’d a four inch knife blade embedded inside his head. It turned out he’d been assaulted in 2006 and the doctors who treated his wounds then didn’t care to check his head.
Also in China, a 14-month old boy stabbed himself through his nose with a chopstick that got stuck in there. After the local hospital refused to touch him, he was rushed to another one, a 10-hours drive away, where surgeons extracted the wood stick, which had reached almost two inches inside the boy’s brain. He’s doing fine now, and so far, there’s no sign that there was any damage to his brain.
Both cases, happy endings and all, illustrate a simple fact: thank goodness for the good doctors, right? Well, not really. Unfortunately, foreign objects are often left inside the body by the very ones who’re in charge of our care, you guessed it, our health providers. There are one too many distracted surgeons and overworked nurses at hospitals all over.
In England, for example, ex-soldier Maureen Deeley finally had removed a swab left inside her during a 1996 operation. In France, a coughing fit exposed a pair of surgical forceps left in a woman’s stomach after an otherwise successful tummy tuck operation performed months before. As with the ex-soldier, the French woman, identified only as Anne, is still waiting for an apology from her doctor.
In fact, a recent study showed that an average of two operations a week in England end with surgical instruments being sewn inside patients’ bodies. In 2008, more than 700 users of the U.K.’s health care system were left harboring forceps, scissors, swabs and pliers.
So either it’s a virtually unavoidable episode or a not-completely explained one – such as the 50-year old Shanghai man who had recently removed a chopstick that he swallowed 28 years ago – incidents of foreign objects shoved or left inside people’s bodies are on the rise. Some would say, so what? It’s the luck of the dice, right? Perhaps. But if you were us, you would… well, really, there’s nothing you or anyone else can do about it. So, good luck and all that.

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