The pen is mightier than the stomach: Woman who swallowed pen 25 years ago has it removed… and it still works!
We”ve all lost pens down the back of a sofa but one woman managed to misplace one for 25 years – after she swallowed it by accident.
The surprising find only came to light after the 76-year-old woman visited her doctor suffering from weight loss and diarrhoea.
Unexpected: This abdominal CT scan clearly shows the pen siting in the woman”s stomach
An urgent investigation revealed areas of the woman”s large intestine had become inflamed, which was causing the abdominal pain.
Doctors at the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital Foundation Trust then took a CT scan of her abdomen where they were amazed to find a “linear object” that looked much like a pen.
When questioned, the patient remembered that 25 years before she had used a felt-tip pen to poke her tonsils while looking at them in a mirror. However, she had then fallen forward off a step and swallowed the pen by accident.
Her husband and GP had dismissed her story at the time after plain abdominal X-rays came up normal.
It still works: The pen worked despite sitting in stomach acid for decades
The doctors performed a gastroscopy, which confirmed there was a plastic felt-tip pen sitting in the lumen of the woman”s stomach.
It hadn”t caused her any gastric damage – indeed the symptoms that had prompted the investigation in the first place had resolved themselves.
The medical team her decided that they should remove the pen as there was a small risk it could perforate her stomach lining.
It was removed under general anaesthetic and amazingly the doctors found the pen was still in working order.
Reporting the case in British Medical Journal Case Reports, the team led by Dr Oliver Waters, concluded: “Occasionally it may be worth believing the patient’s account however unlikely it may be.”