Man's false teeth get stuck in throat during surgery

Henrietta Strickland
August 13, 2019

According to one of the 72-year-old man's United Kingdom doctors, who wrote about the case in BMJ Case Reports on Monday, his trouble began soon after a successful and seemingly well-done surgery that removed a benign lump from inside his chest.

According to a case report in the British Medical Journal on Monday, the man returned to the hospital six days later complaining of blood in his mouth and difficulties breathing and swallowing, which had prevented him from eating solid food. The doctors were unable to determine what was causing these symptoms and sent him home after prescribing mouthwash, antibiotics, and steroids.

Experts have warned that leaving dentures in when undergoing anaesthetic could result in further hospital visits, invasive tests and even more surgery if they do end up somewhere they're not supposed to be.

Thinking the problem was over, he was shocked to find that nine days after he was again discharged, he returned with even more bleeding and needed more emergency surgery. And that's when the man revealed that his partial dentures had mysteriously gotten lost about a week earlier. More recently, a case report published in May detailed an incident of a 50-year-old man swallowing his dentures during sedation.

Keeping people's dentures in is thought to make it easier for anesthesia to be given to them through a bag-mask, but they should obviously be taken out immediately before any intubation starts, the report noted. Lead author Harriet Cunniffe, from James Paget Hospital in eastern England, is calling for surgeons to ensure dentures are removed from patients before an operation.

He remained in the hospital for another six days. The bleeding got so severe that he needed multiple blood transfusions.

It's not just dentures that can cause problems.

The report states that a check-up a week later showed his wound was healing and after six weeks he didn't need any more emergency care. Looking back at the symptoms the man presented during his emergency room trips, Cunniffe wrote that it was clear he had come in because of a sore throat and difficulty swallowing.

While the chest X-ray and bloodwork indicated a respiratory infection, the tests "acted as a distraction", she wrote. If they had simply physically checked his throat at the very beginning, as these doctors eventually did, he would have been spared days of unneeded suffering.

The medical journal report states that this is not the first time dentures have been inhaled while a patient is under aesthetic.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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