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Man swallows a cellphone, gets operated

Man undergoes surgery to remove cellphone swallowed by him

A 29-year-old prisoner in Ireland surprised doctors after he was taken to the emergency room after claiming he had swallowed a cellphone earlier that day. The authorities say that the cellphone was deliberately swallowed by the prisoner in an attempt to smuggle the same into prison.

At first, a chest X-ray showed the cellphone was resting in the part of the abdomen just above the stomach. Eight hours later, scans revealed the phone had moved to his stomach but had not progressed into his bowel. Finally, after waiting for 18 hours, the doctors decided to operate, as the cellphone still continued to remain in the same spot. The doctors were left with two options: extract it via gastrointestinal endoscopy or make an incision and extract it that way.

A gastrointestinal endoscopy is a common technique for removing foreign objects that have been swallowed and don’t pass through the digestive system. It involves using a flexible tube with a camera to see inside the stomach. Even though the doctors tried to take the cellphone out using several medical tools, including forceps and snare-like devices, they couldn’t arrange the cellphone correctly to get it out of the stomach without possibly damaging the esophagus.

When the gastrointestinal endoscopy failed, doctors decided to make a small incision in the man’s stomach, called a laparotomy, to get the cellphone out. This type of surgery is required in less than 1 percent of people who ingest a foreign object. However, doctors determined that using current endoscopic methods was too dangerous, so they decided to proceed by cutting him open.

The doctors in their report that was published online April 1 in the International Journal of Surgery Case Reports, wrote that in this case “an ingested mobile phone in the stomach may not be amenable for safe removal using the current endoscopic retrieval devices.” What’s more, there is a need “to create or improve on existing retrieval devices,” so that a device like a cellphone could be properly aligned and removed from the stomach without surgery, they said.

According to doctors, the device was successfully retrieved, and the man was discharged from the hospital a week later. Four months later, they saw him again and noted he had recovered well.

It is reported to be first kind of a case in which an adult swallowed a cellphone that ended up in the stomach.