Published: Wed, August 14, 2019
Medicine | By Rogelio Lindsey

Dentures got lodged in man's throat for days after surgery

Dentures got lodged in man's throat for days after surgery

It wasn't until the man's condition worsened, prompting a second trip to the emergency room, that doctors finally discovered the real source of his symptoms: His dentures, which he thought were lost during an operation eight days earlier, had actually been lodged in his throat the entire time, according to an article published Monday in the peer-reviewed journal BMJ Case Reports.

Hazel Stuart, James Paget University Hospital Medical Director, said: "We had an incident in 2018 and as soon as it was identified the patient was advised and an apology provided by the clinical lead".

The man went to the emergency room because he was having a hard time swallowing and was coughing up blood.

Cunniffe stressed to doctors to "always listen to your patient" and not rely as heavily on imaging and laboratory tests. He had been unable to swallow any of the medicine he had been prescribed.

After the operation to remove the dentures, he was discharged but returned four more times suffering from bleeding.

At this point, he was re-admitted to the hospital.

Doctors say their elderly patient endured a nightmarish week of his throat bleeding out and weeks more of surgeries and hospital care, all because surgeons had forgotten to remove his dentures - dentures that then became lodged in his throat.

Believing he had pneumonia, the pensioner was given another chest X-ray, only for it to reveal an object lying across his vocal cords and pressing against a part of the throat. They cauterized the tissue to prevent further bleeding.

The man had to have a blood transfusion he lost so much blood.

As tests revealed the bleeding had stopped, he was sent home, only to reappear 10 days later with the same problem.

This isn't the first documented case of dentures being inhaled while a patient is under general anesthetic, the authors noted.

Over the next six weeks, however, his tissue healed, he did not require any more emergency care, and his blood count returned to normal, according to the August 12 BMJ Case Reports.

"There are no set national guidelines on how dentures should be managed during anaesthesia, but it is known that leaving dentures in during bag-mask ventilation allows for a better seal during induction [when the anaesthetic is being infused], and therefore many hospitals allow dentures to be removed immediately before intubation [when a tube is inserted into the airway to assist breathing]", write the authors.

The report concluded that all members of surgical teams must be aware of dentures before and after surgery, as well know what to do with them during the procedure.

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