10 Odd Things Swallowed, with X-ray Evidence

You're gnawing on something for one reason or another, and sometimes instinct takes over and -whoops- you've swallowed it! If an inedible object is small enough and somewhat round (coins and stones), it will often pass through the digestive system on its own. Others need surgical intervention.

1. Knife

This x-ray of a knife eaten by a dog accompanied an article about the strange things dogs will swallow. Veterinarians advise dog owners to keep dangerous objects away from dogs, even if they seem much too big to swallow. Your dog can surprise you!

2. Rubber Duck


A Staffordshire terrier named Ozzie swallowed a rubber duckie whole rather than lose it in a fight with another dog! The duck had to be removed surgically.

Vet Hannah Ferguson, who followed up Ozzie's treatment, said: "It's not uncommon for dogs to swallow strange objects, although they tend to chew them into little bits first.

"We did once have a Labrador which swallowed its entire bed, but Ozzie's is certainly the most entertaining x-ray we've ever seen."

3. Toy Dog

200xraytoy.jpgMurphy the Labrador Retriever had a habit of eating socks. He usually passed them with no trouble. One day his owner took him to the vet over distressing symptoms. An x-ray revealed that a plush fabric dog toy was lodged in Murphy's stomach and couldn't quite fit into the intestines. It was removed endoscopically, meaning they reached in and pulled it out through his throat. No word on whether Murphy went back to eating socks again afterward.

4. Fork


A 10-year-old dog named Apachee in Raleigh, North Carolina swallowed a fork, with dire consequences. The fork pierced a vein in his chest and he began bleeding around the lungs. Emergency surgery saved him as doctors patched the vein and removed the fork. Apachee is expected to make a full recovery.

5. Electric Blanket


If you told me a blanket had been swallowed whole, I would assume the swallower to be a dog. Not in this case. A 12-foot Burmese Python named Houdini managed to swallow not only a queen-sized electric blanket, but the cord and the control box as well! Veterinarians in Ketchum, Idaho had never operated on a snake before, but went ahead after consulting an expert by phone. The two-hour surgery to remove the blanket was successful.

6. Light Bulbs


Ripley's Believe It Or Not featured this x-ray of a pine snake that had ingested two light bulbs. The snake must have thought they were eggs!

7. Magnetix


Children tend to swallow small objects when they get a chance. Every year, doctors see cases of coins and other small objects that toddlers swallow. In most cases, the object will pass naturally. Magnets can cause problems, however. If a child swallows more than one magnet, they will attract each other in the digestive system and could rip through intestines. Eight-year-old Haley Lents swallowed around 30 pieces of her Magnetix set and suffered eight intestinal tears. It could have been worse without surgery to remove the magnets.

8. Key


Adults have their own reasons for swallowing strange objects. 18-year-old Chris Foster, a student at Bournemouth University, had been drinking and didn't want the night of partying to end. So to prevent his friends from taking him back to his dormitory, he swallowed his room key! Foster had no recollection of the stunt, but sought medical help after being told of it. Doctors took x-rays and advised Foster that the key would eventually reappear without surgery.

9. Engagement Ring


Simon Hooper wanted to propose to his girlfriend, but didn't want to pay for a ring. So he visited a jeweler in Dorchester, England. While the jeweler was distracted, Hooper swallowed a platinum ring! Hooper was arrested and x-rayed, but police had to wait for three days for the "evidence" to emerge. The jeweler says the recovered ring draws interest, but people don't want to buy it because they know where it's been.

10. Swords


Sword swallowing can be a hazardous profession. When you do it right, no medical intervention is needed, but there are side effects, such as sore throat, lower chest pain, and intestinal bleeding. Are you surprised? Sword swallowers sustain injuries from their act at a higher rate than most performers. Most injuries occur when the performer is startled or distracted.

For more harrowing x-ray images, see X-Rays in the News.




Matthew Simmons/Getty Images
How Accurate are Hollywood Medical Dramas? A Doctor Breaks It Down
Matthew Simmons/Getty Images
Matthew Simmons/Getty Images

Medical dramas like Grey's Anatomy get a lot of things wrong when it comes to the procedures shown on the screen, but unless you're a doctor, you'd probably never notice.

For its latest installment, WIRED's Technique Critique video series—which previously blessed us with a dialect coach's critique of actors' onscreen accents—tackled the accuracy of medical scenes in movies and TV, bringing in Annie Onishi, a general surgery resident at Columbia University, to comment on emergency room and operating scenes from Pulp Fiction, House, Scrubs, and more.

While Onishi breaks down just how inaccurate these shows and movies can be, she makes it clear that Hollywood doesn't always get it wrong. Some shows, including Showtime's historical drama The Knick, garner praise from Onishi for being true-to-life with their medical jargon and operations. And when doctors discuss what music to play during surgery on Scrubs? That's "a tale as old as time in the O.R.," according to Onishi.

Other tropes are very obviously ridiculous, like slapping a patient during CPR and telling them to fight, which we see in a scene from The Abyss. "Rule number one of CPR is: never stop effective chest compressions in order to slap or yell words of encouragement at the patient," Onishi says. "Yelling at a patient or cheering them on has never brought them back to life." And obviously, taking selfies in the operating room in the middle of a grisly operation like the doctors on Grey's Anatomy do would get you fired in real life.

There are plenty of cliché words and phrases we hear over and over on doctor shows, and some are more accurate than others. Asking about a patient's vitals is authentic, according to Onishi, who says it's something doctors are always concerned with. However, yelling "We're losing him!" is simply for added TV drama. "I have never once heard that in my real life," Onishi says.

[h/t WIRED]

Farrin Abbott, SLAC/Flickr // CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
An Ancient Book Blasted with High-Powered X-Rays Reveals Text Erased Centuries Ago
Farrin Abbott, SLAC/Flickr // CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Farrin Abbott, SLAC/Flickr // CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

A book of 10th-century psalms recovered from St. Catherine’s Monastery on Egypt's Sinai Peninsula is an impressive artifact in itself. But the scientists studying this text at the U.S. Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory at Stanford University were less interested in the surface text than in what was hidden beneath it. As Gizmodo reports, the researchers were able to identify the remains of an ancient Greek medical text on the parchment using high-powered x-rays.

Unlike the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL) used by the scientists is a much simpler and more common type of particle accelerator. In the SSRL, electrons accelerate to just below the speed of light while tracing a many-sided polygon. Using magnets to manipulate the electrons' path, the researchers can produce x-ray beams powerful enough to reveal the hidden histories of ancient documents.

Scanning an ancient text.
Mike Toth, R.B. Toth Associates, Flickr // CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

In the case of the 10th-century psalms, the team discovered that the same pages had held an entirely different text written five centuries earlier. The writing was a transcription of the words of the prominent Greek physician Galen, who lived from 130 CE to around 210 CE. His words were recorded on the pages in the ancient Syriac language by an unknown writer a few hundred years after Galen's death.

Several centuries after those words were transcribed, the ink was scraped off by someone else to make room for the psalms. The original text is no longer visible to the naked eye, but by blasting the parchment with x-rays, the scientists can see where the older writing had once marked the page. You can see it below—it's the writing in green.

X-ray scan of ancient text.
University of Manchester, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Flickr // CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Now that the researchers know the hidden text is there, their next step will be uncovering as many words as possible. They plan to do this by scanning the book in its entirety, a process that will take 10 hours for each of the 26 pages. Once they've been scanned and studied, the digital files will be shared online.

Particle accelerators are just one tool scientists use to decipher messages that were erased centuries ago. Recently, conservationists at the Library of Congress used multispectral imaging, a method that bounces different wavelengths of light off a page, to reveal the pigments of an old Alexander Hamilton letter someone had scrubbed out.

[h/t Gizmodo]


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