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7 Weird Things People Have Swallowed
By Rachael Rettner,
Live Science, 12 May 2016.

It's probably not a good idea to swallow anything that isn't food or medicine. Yet doctors have seen cases of people who've swallowed all sorts of weird objects, from household items to tech gadgets. Here's a rundown of seven strange things people have swallowed.

7. A lighter

Credit: 1983/Wikimedia Commons

A man in Croatia was found to have a lighter in his stomach, which had been there for 17 months. The man admitted to his doctors that he intentionally swallowed the lighter when he was at a police station, where he was being questioned about possibly smuggling drugs, according to a 2012 report of the case. The man had wrapped the lighter in cellophane, so he wasn't exposed to the toxic chemicals in the lighter, even after all that time. Doctors were able to successfully remove the lighter by using a snare-like medical tool, and pulled it out through the man's esophagus.

6. Dentures

Credit: Peter Fleck/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

A 55-year-old man in India accidentally swallowed a part of his denture when he had a seizure while sleeping. But the man didn't realize what he had swallowed until he went to the doctor eight days later, after he experienced chest pain and difficulty swallowing. An X-ray showed that part of the denture was stuck in his esophagus. Removing the denture proved difficult, but doctors were eventually able to extricate it without needing to perform surgery.

5. A fitness tracker

Credit: Indiegogo

A 13-year-old girl in South Korea accidentally swallowed her Misfit Shine activity tracker after she put it in her mouth while swimming. After 30 hours of waiting for the device to pass on its own, it remained in the girl's stomach, and so doctors decided to try to remove it. They were able to use a snare-like tool to lasso the tracker, and take it out. The Shine still worked, and the girl recovered quickly.

4. Cellphone

Credit: PDPics/Pixabay

A 29-year-old prisoner in Ireland went to the emergency room after he swallowed a cellphone. An X-ray showed the phone was in the man's stomach. Since the phone didn't pass through the digestive system on its own, doctors tried to remove it using medical tools to pull the device up through the esophagus. However, they couldn't align the phone correctly to get it out of the stomach without potentially damaging the esophagus, according to a 2016 report of the case. Ultimately, the doctors needed to make a make a surgical incision into the man's stomach to get the phone out.

3. SpongeBob

Credit: Dr. Ghofran Ageely via Radiopaedia

Doctors who treated a 16-month-old boy got a surprise when an X-ray of his throat revealed SpongeBob SquarePants looking back at them. It turned out that the child had swallowed a pendant featuring the cartoon character that belonged to his sister. The doctors were able to remove the pendant without any complications.

2. A toothbrush

Credit: succo/Pixabay

An 18-year-old woman went to the doctors after she accidentally swallowed her toothbrush, according to a 2011 report of the case. The woman admitted she had been using the toothbrush to induce vomiting when she swallowed it, the report said. Doctors were able to successfully remove the 8-inch toothbrush using a snare-like medical tool. The women recovered and went home 6 hours later.

1. Dental instrument

Credit: Geisson Soares/Wikimedia Commons

A 4-year-old boy in India was undergoing a root canal when he suddenly moved his head, and swallowed a sharp dental instrument called a pro taper file, which is used for root canals and looks like a small screwdriver. Initially, doctors weren't sure if the boy had inhaled the file or swallowed it, but an X-ray suggested the instrument was in his stomach. The boy wasn't in pain, and so doctors waited to see if the instrument would pass through the digestive tract on its own. X-rays taken later showed that the instrument was moving, and 41 hours later it passed, according to a 2015 report of the case.

Top image: X-ray showing a SpongeBob pendant that a 16-month-old boy swallowed. Credit: Dr. Ghofran Ageely via Radiopaedia.

[Source: Live Science. Edited. Some images added.]