Science Now Knows How Long It Takes to Poop Out a Swallowed LEGO Head

iStock.com/Ekaterina79
iStock.com/Ekaterina79

The bricks and square-shaped people of the LEGO toy universe have been bringing joy to adults and children alike for decades. Less pleasant: stepping on a LEGO brick, which results in remarkable pain, and emergency runs to the pediatrician when a kid happens to tear off a LEGO head and swallow it.

If you’ve ever wondered whether a LEGO head can get lodged in a loved one’s intestine, science now has an answer. Gizmodo recently reported on a study published in the Journal of Pediatrics and Child Health that described the LEGO poop problems of six volunteers—all physicians and authors of the study—after intentionally swallowing a toy cranium. Then they sifted through the excrement to see when the disembodied head would make a reappearance.

The average elapsed time from ingestion to elimination was 1.71 days, with the head making a clear and uneventful exit in five of the six participants. One never found the head despite a thorough scan of his waste, but it’s possible he missed it. How you miss a rather large, orange chunk of plastic in your feces was not elaborated upon.

While the authors took time to add some levity to their LEGO poop problems—they dubbed the duration of time before finding the head the Find and Retrieval Time, or FART—the experiment was intended to demonstrate to parents that a swallowed LEGO head is not likely to result in complications and should pass without incident within a day or two. Owing to some degree of practicability, the authors also concluded that it’s not necessary to comb through your kid’s stool to confirm the object’s successful transit through the bowel.

That said, it’s never advisable to swallow foreign objects. While many LEGO heads were once manufactured with a hollow core to assist in breathing in case they became lodged in the throat, it’s best that children be cautioned against eating their toys.

[h/t Gizmodo]

Pioneering Heart Surgeon René Favaloro Is Being Honored With a Google Doodle

Dr. René Favaloro (left) pictured with colleague Dr. Mason Sones.
Dr. René Favaloro (left) pictured with colleague Dr. Mason Sones.
The Cleveland Clinic Center for Medical Art & Photography, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 4.0

Argentinian heart surgeon René Favaloro is the subject of today’s Google Doodle, which features a sketched portrait of the doctor along with an anatomical heart and several medical tools, The Independent reports.

The renowned doctor was born on this day in 1923 in La Plata, the capital of Argentina’s Buenos Aires province, and pursued a degree in medicine at La Plata University. After 12 years as a doctor in La Pampa, where he established the area’s first mobile blood bank, trained nurses, and built his own operating room, Favaloro relocated to the U.S. to specialize in thoracic surgery at the Cleveland Clinic.

In 1967, Favaloro performed coronary bypass surgery on a 51-year-old woman whose right coronary artery was blocked, restricting blood flow to her heart. Coronary bypass surgery involves taking a healthy vein from elsewhere in the body (in this case, Favaloro borrowed from the patient’s leg, but you can also use a vein from the arm or chest), and using it to channel the blood from the artery to the heart, bypassing the blockage. According to the Mayo Clinic, it doesn’t cure whatever heart disease that caused the blocked artery, but it can relieve symptoms like chest pain and shortness of breath, and it gives patients time to make other lifestyle changes to further manage their disease.

Favaloro wasn’t keen on being called the “father” of coronary bypass surgery, but his work brought the procedure to the forefront of the clinical field. He moved back to Argentina in 1971 and launched the Favaloro Foundation to train surgeons and treat a variety of patients from diverse economic backgrounds.

Favaloro died by suicide on July 29, 2000, at the age of 77, by a gunshot wound to the chest. His wife had died several years prior, and his foundation had fallen deeply into debt, which Argentinian hospitals and medical centers declined to help pay, The New York Times reported at the time.

“As a surgeon, Dr. Favaloro will be remembered for his ingenuity and imagination,” his colleague Dr. Denton A. Cooley wrote in a tribute shortly after Favaloro’s death. “But as a man ... he will be remembered for his compassion and selflessness.” Today would have been his 96th birthday.

[h/t The Independent]

A Simple Way to Cure Brain Freeze Quickly

vitapix/iStock via Getty Images
vitapix/iStock via Getty Images

As one of life’s simple pleasures, ice cream should not have the capacity to cause spontaneous and agonizing pain immediately after ingestion. Yet ice cream and other extremely cold food frequently catches us off-guard by inciting what is known as “brain freeze” or “ice cream headache.” Fortunately, there’s a way to alleviate this harsh side effect.

According to Johns Hopkins University, a bout of radiating pain in your head after eating cold food is known as cold neuralgia or sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia. It’s likely caused by your body entering survival mode when it detects a freezing temperature on the palate (roof) of the mouth: our system constricts blood vessels in the palate to preserve our core temperature. When they rapidly open back up, a pain signal is sent to the brain via the trigeminal nerve. Since that nerve leads directly to the midface and forehead, your face bears the brunt of the referred pain from the mouth.

A brain freeze typically lasts less than five minutes. But when your head is throbbing, that can feel like forever. To minimize the pain, the best strategy is to warm the palate up. You can do this by pressing your tongue or a thumb against the roof of your mouth, by drinking a warm liquid, or both. Covering your face and breathing into your hands can also warm the air inside your mouth that was chilled by the ice cream.

If you want to take preventive measures, avoid gulping cold drinks and take smaller bites. Holding the ice cream in your mouth to warm it before swallowing can also reduce the potential for a painful end to your cone or slushy drink.

[h/t Johns Hopkins Medicine]

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