False teeth found in patient's throat a week after op

The X-ray showed a semicircular object lying across the man's vocal cords

The unnamed man, described as a 72-year-old retired electrician, went to the emergency room because he was having difficulty swallowing and was coughing up blood, according to an article in the BMJ, a United Kingdom -based medical journal.

Six days after the surgery, he returned to the emergency room complaining of blood in his mouth and difficulty with breathing and swallowing.

Assuming it was routine soreness from having a tube in his throat during surgery, doctors initially prescribed mouthwash, antibiotics and steroids, the British Medical Journal report says.

A neck X-ray showing a man's dentures caught in his throat.

After a blunder during an operation, a pensioner spent over a week with his dentures unknowingly stuck in his throat. Doctors need to listen carefully to their patients and build a timeline of what happened rather than relying heavily on scans and tests, said Dr. Rui Amaral Mendes, an associate editor of BMJ Case Reports, which published the paper Monday.

In two days, he was back at the hospital again - this time with even more symptoms.

Aside from experiencing considerable pain, bleeding, and swallowing difficulties, the oversight led to repeated hospital visits, additional invasive tests, blood transfusions, and eventually more surgery.

"He was also feeling short of breath, particularly when lying down, and had taken to sleeping upright", Harriet Cunniffe, an ear, nose and throat surgeon at Universities Hospitals NHS in Yarmouth noted.

After a couple of days he was again discharged, but returned six days later because of further bleeding.

His fifth trip to the emergency room revealed blistering in his throat surrounded by "wound tissue", which was cauterised to prevent further bleeding. Because he had lost so much blood, he also required a blood transfusion. It turned out that an artery had been torn in the wound.

The presence of any false teeth or dental plates should be clearly documented before and after any surgical procedure, with all members of the surgical team made aware of what is to be done with them, they add.

The hospital performed more X-rays and found what doctors described as "a metallic semicircular object" lodged in the man's throat. A check-up six weeks after his last surgery found that his blood cell count had climbed back to normal and he hadn't needed any other emergency care since.

Cunniffe was able to find at least 83 such cases reported during a 15-year-span, including one case that tragically ended in death.

"As a result of this, processes have been reviewed, amended as necessary, and the lessons learnt have been shared with staff".

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