Monday, January 12, 2015

Chicken bone gets stuck in an awkward spot

Swallowing a chicken bone (or any other small bone) may cause choking, an esophageal injury or, sometimes, a serious intestinal obstruction that requires surgery. However, in some cases the bone will pass right through the digestive tract... only to get stuck in the rectum. This is precisely what happened to the 31-year-old man who walked into the Department of Accident and Emergency Medicine at the Royal Infirmary in Cardiff, UK, complaining of intense rectal pain. The pain had started suddenly nine hours earlier, while the subject was attempting to pass a stool.

On examination he was in acute distress, unable to sit because of the excruciating pain. Digital examination revealed a hard, sharp object in the rectum, lodged horizontally just above the anal margin. After sedation, a bone fragment 4 centimeters long was manually removed. Proctosigmoidoscopy showed no signs of a bowel perforation, so the patient was allowed to go home as soon as he recovered from the effects of the sedative. 

Further questioning revealed the cause of the problem - he had eaten chicken about 48 hours before the pain started. He denied being under the influence of alcohol at the time, but had a habit of eating quickly, without chewing food properly.

Here is a photo of the chicken bone after removal:


Davies DH (1991) A chicken bone in the rectum. Arch Emerg Med. 8(1): 62–64.

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