A woman in Northern Ireland lived with a plastic pill packet lodged in her throat for 17 days, a medical journal has reported.
According to a paper published in the BMJ Journals, the patient, who has not been named and is in her 40s, swallowed the packet of the painkiller Tramadol in the middle of the night in November.
It was finally detected after four visits to Craigavon Area Hospital in Co Armagh, and the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.
Writing about the extraordinary case, David McCrory said: “She had swallowed her Tramadol tablets whole in the original foil packet which was lodged in the upper oesophagus.
“She underwent rigid oesophagoscopy and removal of foreign body uneventfully (17 days after ingestion of her tablets) and she was discharged after a period of observation.”
The patient initially attended the hospital’s A&E department the following morning complaining of discomfort and difficulty swallowing.
There she was described as “fit and well”, and the ears, nose and throat team observed she was tolerating fluids, had no airway difficulties and could mobilise her neck.
The pill packet did not show up on X-rays and was not detected at that stage.
Doctors told her to come back if there was no improvement – and the woman was back in hospital three days later.
She was treated with steroids and painkillers for 48 hours until her symptoms improved and was then discharged.
Five days later, a barium swallow scan, which examines the upper gastrointestinal tract, was carried out at a hospital, but returned normal results.
It was during a later outpatients appointment that the pill packet was detected during an oesophago-gastroduodenoscopy (OGD) scan, and was safely removed some 17 days after ingestion.
The patient was quoted as saying: “I had no idea I swallowed this.
“It was a very frightening three weeks and I couldn’t believe when I saw the picture.”