Woman in intensive care with mystery blood poisoning and multiple organ failure was finally found to have swallowed a TOOTHPICK
13:55 GMT, 12 September 2012
Baffled doctors were amazed to discover that a woman in intensive care who mysteriously developed severe blood poisoning and a liver abscess had swallowed a toothpick.
The 45-year-old, who has not been identified, had unknowingly ingested the toothpick which then perforated her gullet and lodged in a lobe in her liver.
Details of the extraordinary, and rare, case have been published by the British Medical Journal.
Ouch! Baffled doctors were amazed to discover that a woman in intensive care who mysteriously developed severe blood poisoning and a liver abscess had swallowed a toothpick
The patient had been feeling progressively weaker over the course of several months, during which time she had visited a hospital emergency room with a variety of symptoms.
These included nausea, vomiting and low blood pressure.
Doctors diagnosed her with an abdominal infection and prescribed antibiotics.
But blood tests showed the woman had higher-than-normal levels of blood enzymes and an ultrasound revealed a 1.5in puss-filled cavity in her liver.
The woman was by now in intensive care suffering from multiple organ failure, breathing difficulties and systemic infection as a result of blood poisoning.
It took several weeks of treatment with various antibiotics before she was well enough to return home.
'Toothpick injury of the gastrointestinal tract is often associated with considerable morbidity'
Keyhole surgery was scheduled after doctors finally realised the patient had swallowed a toothpick, which was then removed.
She then made a full recovery with the help of further anitbiotics.
The case is one of thousands being logged at BMJ Case Reports online where doctors can share information about various unusual or bizarre cases that they have dealt with.
The BMJ researchers make clear that the early diagnosis and removal of such 'foreign bodies' is important.
They wrote: 'Toothpick injury of the gastrointestinal tract is often associated with considerable morbidity.'