Israeli child avoids suffocation from arrowhead in nose for six months

Polyp surgery in a Jerusalem hospital revealed an arrowhead hiding behind nasal polyps that a toddler’s brother shot into his mouth six months ago.

 Child who had an arrowhead in his nose for six months. (photo credit: SHAARE ZEDEK MEDICAL CENTER)
Child who had an arrowhead in his nose for six months.
(photo credit: SHAARE ZEDEK MEDICAL CENTER)

A four-year-old Jerusalem boy who was suffering from pus in his larynx, snoring and bad breath was saved from suffocation when Shaare Zedek Medical Center surgeons found a red rubber arrow hiding behind large polyps in his nose. 

The unusual foreign object was removed along with the polyps under general surgery at the pediatric otolaryngology unit at SZMC’s Bikur Cholim Hospital campus in downtown Jerusalem. 

The parents took the toddler for an urgent visit to the director of the unit, Dr. David Pierre Attal, to investigate his inflamed throat and other symptoms. 

What did the doctors think?

The doctor’s immediate suspicion was the presence of a foreign body after the mother said the boy’s brother shot a target arrow made of rubber at him half a year ago. But an examination at the time by a health fund doctor found no foreign body.  

 Shaare Zedek medical team with the child that they removed an arrowhead from.  (credit: SHAARE ZEDEK MEDICAL CENTER) Shaare Zedek medical team with the child that they removed an arrowhead from. (credit: SHAARE ZEDEK MEDICAL CENTER)

When the child’s symptoms became more severe, the mother again brought him to the health fund clinic, and the doctor diagnosed polyps. She took her son to Attal for further examination and treatment. 

The otolaryngologist confirmed with a nasal endoscopy that the child indeed suffered from polyps that almost completely blocked the airways. The child was taken to the surgical theater and put under general anesthesia, and the polyps were completely removed.

"The amazing thing is that the arrowhead could have fallen into the airway and suffocated the child in his sleep. Miraculously, the boy did not suffocate."

Dr. David Pierre Attal, Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem

What did the doctors find?

But suddenly the surgeons saw a bright red foreign body. “We pulled it out and when we asked the parents about it, the mother recalled the incident of the arrowhead that wasn’t found by the health fund doctor even with an x-ray,” he said. 

“X-rays don’t reveal foreign bodies of this type. The boy came to us for a day hospitalization, where the operation was successfully performed. The child feels well, and his life was saved," Attel said.

"This is the first time I went for one kind of surgery and found a foreign body. The amazing thing is that the arrowhead could have fallen into the airway and suffocated the child in his sleep. Miraculously, the boy did not suffocate.”

The SZMC surgeon and operating nurse Rachela Orieli Mashiach call on all parents to be more vigilant and not let children under the age of six play with these arrows or other small objects. They said the danger is especially great during school vacations when children are home for many more hours, sometimes without adult supervision.