10 Odd Things Swallowed, with X-ray Evidence

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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September 2, 2008 - 2:48am
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