A 41-year-old woman’s suspected Crohn’s disease diagnosis turned out to be something different entirely: perforation of the small intestine caused by what appeared to be the remains of a plastic ketchup sachet.
The woman thought she was living with the type of inflammatory bowel disease for a staggering six years before doctors discovered an unusual inflammatory mass which was caused by perforation due to the foreign body.
The woman underwent surgery and doctors were shocked to discover two pieces of plastic perforating her small intestine bearing the word ‘Heinz’.
When the plastic was removed, her symptoms disappeared.
“This case highlights that an inflammatory mass in the small intestine caused by the perforation of ingested foreign body can mimic Crohn’s disease,” researchers wrote in the BMJ Case Report.
The woman could not recall consuming a meal involving a ketchup sachet (or anything similar).
Crohn’s disease is a condition which causes inflammation of the lining of the digestive system. This inflammation most commonly occurs in the last section of the small intestine (ileum) or the large intestine (colon), according to the NHS.
Typical symptoms include diarrhoea, abdominal pain, fatigue, unintended weight loss and blood and mucus in the faeces.
Symptoms which the woman originally presented with included going to the toilet and passing soft stools 3-5 times a day, however she didn’t experience rectal bleeding, her appetite was good and she didn’t lose weight.
Her story was featured alongside 15,000 others in BMJ Case Reports, documenting everything from the hazards of misusing common household products to the consequences of unwittingly swallowing everyday items.
One man had swallowed a Playmobil traffic cone in his youth which went undetected in his lung for 40 years, before he presented to doctors with suspected lung cancer.
Doctors later discovered that the blockage in his lungs was caused by the miniature traffic cone and, after surgery to remove it, his symptoms also disappeared.