Obinna Obinwa et. al.

Surgeons just removed the world's tiniest phone from a prisoner's stomach

We don’t even want to know how it got in there.

BEC CREW
18 MAY 2016
 

Just yesterday we were marvelling at the unique value of medical case reports in highlighting some of the strange, unexplainable, and incredibly rare medical anomalies that affect people all over the world. 

Most often these affiliations are down to pre-existing medical conditions, or even some really bad luck, but sometimes people just do weird shit to themselves, and this time, the result is the world’s smallest mobile phone being stuck in an Irish prisoner’s stomach.

 

As the surgical team at the Adelaide and Meath Hospital in Dublin, Ireland describe in this medical case report, a 29-year-old prisoner was brought into the ER because he’d been vomiting non-stop for 4 hours. 

He told them that 6 hours before he started to puke uncontrollably, he’d ingested a mini mobile phone: the Long-CZ, which at just 5.8 cm (2.3 inches) long and less than 2.5 cm (1 inch) wide, is the smallest mobile phone on the market.

"He had no other associated symptoms," the doctors report, but add that he had "complex psycho-social issues", which could explain how the phone got in there in the first place.

Well, it could explain why he did it, perhaps, but not how he physically got it down his throat and all the way into his epigastrium - the part of the upper abdomen immediately over the stomach. We’ll leave that bit to your imagination.

maxresdefaultThe Long-CZ mini phone. Credit: ArchivVideo/YouTube

The team decided to admit him and give him 18 hours to poop it out. Unfortunately for him (but fortunately for his rectum), that was never going to happen.

After almost a day of waiting, "It was still in the patient’s stomach, and nowhere close to passing into the small intestine to begin snaking its way through the digestive tract," Jennifer Ouellette reports for Gizmodo. "And that meant surgery was in order."

The team first tried to perform an endoscopic removal, which involves inserting a tiny claw-like device with a camera attached down his throat to try and grab onto the phone and pull it back out. According to Sarah Knapton at The Telegraph, this is how many a coin, key, magnet, and battery has been retrieved from a patient’s insides.

But due to the size of the phone, and the alignment of it, they decided to ditch that plan for fears that dragging it back up would tear the lining of his oesophagus. Time for plan B: an upper midline laparotomy, which basically means retrieving the phone via an incision made in the top of the stomach.

The phone was removed, the man was patched up, and given counselling.

phone-stomach-2Obinna Obinwa et. al.

So what have we learned? This is not the first time a human has managed to ingest a mobile phone, but surgeons are still trying to figure out what the best approach is to getting them back out. As the Adelaide and Meath Hospital in Dublin team muses:

"This observation has raised a new question: should clinicians proceed directly to surgery when clinical observation fails in these cases or should endoscopy still be attempted?"

But you really just want to know what happened with those other cases, right? I’ll let Knapton run through those, because they have to be read to be believed:

"In August 2013, it was reported that a 19-year-old Brazilian Adriana Andrade swallowed her phone because she was worried her boyfriend would read text messages from another man.

Nero, a doberman-great dane crossbreed from Pretoria, South Africa, also needed an operation after swallowing his owner’s Nokia mobile phone.

And Gena, a 14-year-old crocodile at an aquarium in the eastern Ukrainian city of Dnipropetrovsk, was discovered to have eaten a visitor’s mobile. Staff were only alerted after the animal started ringing."

We really need to stop giving the Joker such great ideas.

More From ScienceAlert

Scientists have figured out why human skin doesn’t leak

Despite us losing 500 million skin cells per day.

10 hours ago
New evidence suggests Parkinson's might start in the gut, not the brain

We might have been wrong about Parkinson's this whole time.

13 hours ago
WATCH: Jupiter's moons make actual sine waves

Our mathematical Universe is not what it seems.

15 hours ago