Patient saved after dentist drops object down her trachea

The Carmel doctors had previously encountered plastic beads, thumb tacks, marbles and other objects but never a large dental bridge.

August 17, 2010 04:47
1 minute read.
The Jerusalem Post

dentist illustrative 311. (photo credit: Bloomberg)


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A five-centimeter-long metal dental prosthesis bridge recently fell into the trachea and lungs of a 60-year-old Haifa woman while she was undergoing treatment from an inattentive dentist, who assured her that she swallowed it and that it would emerge at the other end of her gastrointestinal system without incident.

But the Carmel Medical Center doctors who treated Dina said that the foreign body that caused her to cough incessantly had already triggered an infection in her lung and nearly made a hole in it. The bridge and a metal bolt were carefully removed using a bronchoscope and ultrasound scanner at the Haifa hospital.

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Dina went to her family doctor for the coughing and wheezing but didn’t connect the bridge “swallowing” incident with her problem. She mentioned to the doctor that the piece of metal had fallen into her mouth when the dentist was fitting it. He sent her for a chest X-ray, and with the evidence sent her to the hospital emergency room. The X-ray clearly showed the bridge with sharp points on it to which artificial teeth were to be attached.

The family doctor alerted hospital lung unit director Dr. Yohai Adir, who prepared a surgical team and the bronchoscope.

“The danger was huge,” said Dr. Michal Steinberg, who works in Carmel’s emergency department. “The bridge could have caused a great deal of damage. We removed it at the last minute before it did.”

“It’s important for people to know the difference between swallowing into the esophagus and stomach and inhaling into the trachea and lungs,” added Steinberg. “When stuck in the lungs, foreign objects can cause injury, bleeding, infections and real danger to the life of the patient.”

The Carmel doctors had previously encountered plastic beads, thumb tacks, marbles and other objects but never a large dental bridge.

Dina is recovering and will be discharged soon.

“I am grateful to the Carmel staff and happy that it had a happy ending,” she said.

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