For one 4-year-old boy in Saudi Arabia, swallowing a bobby pin led to a perforated intestine, a pierced kidney, and surgery to fix it all. After a medical team operated to remove the pin, the boy recovered without further complications.
“Children actually start exploring the world using their mouth as soon as they are able to pick up objects,” said Dr. Yasmin Abdulaziz Yousef, of the department of surgery at KAMC-JD, National Guard Health Affairs in Jeddah, who treated the boy. However, serious complications due to swallowed objects are really rare, because objects typically “pass through the gastrointestinal tract and end up in the diaper,” she said.
Problems are more common when the object that was swallowed is thin and sharp because these have a higher chance of causing perforations and other serious problems.
When the boy’s parents brought him to the hospital where Yousef works, he had already been having pain in the upper right part of his abdomen for about three months. He had been misdiagnosed with no relief to his pain. When he came to Yousef’s hospital in January 2015, a CT scan revealed that the bobby pin had become lodged in the boy’s right kidney.
The ends of the pin had rusted and become sharp, and the pin had pierced through the first section of the small intestine and penetrated deep into his kidney, according to the report. The doctors operated and removed the pin, and the boy recovered without any further issues, according to the report, published Nov. 5 in the journal BMJ Case Reports.
“As a parent myself, there is no way to stop kids from exploring the world with their mouths,” Yousef told Live Science. “It is not possible.”But parents can protect their kids by keeping sharp objects, tiny toys, nuts, fridge magnets and disc batteries out of toddlers’ reach, she said.
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