Skip to comments.Hundreds of coins found in patient's belly
Posted on 02/18/2004 6:37:44 PM PST by MeekOneGOP
Hundreds of coins found in patient's belly
07:26 PM CST on Wednesday, February 18, 2004
BOSTON French doctors were taken aback when they discovered the reason for a patient's sore, swollen belly: He had swallowed around 350 coins $650 worth along with assorted necklaces and needles.
The 62-year-old man came to the emergency room of Cholet General Hospital in western France in 2002. He had a history of major psychiatric illness, was suffering from stomach pain, and could not eat or move his bowels.
His family warned doctors that he sometimes swallowed coins, and a few had been removed from his stomach in past hospital visits.
Still, doctors were awed when they took an X-ray. They discovered an enormous opaque mass in his stomach that turned out to weigh 12 pounds as much as some bowling balls. It was so heavy it had forced his stomach down between his hips.
Five days after his arrival, doctors cut him open and removed his badly damaged stomach with its contents. He died 12 days later from complications.
One of his doctors, intensive care specialist Dr. Bruno Francois, said the patient had swallowed the coins both French currency and later euros over about a decade. His family tried to keep coins and jewelry away from him.
"When he was invited and came in some homes, he liked to steal coins and eat them," Francois said.
The case history of the French patient, whose name was withheld, was reported in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine.
The patient's rare condition is called pica, a compulsion to eat things not normally consumed as food. Its name comes from the Latin word for magpie, a bird thought to eat just about anything.
Pica can take the form of eating dirt, ashes, chalk, hair, soap, toothbrushes, burned matches and many other things. Francois once treated a patient who ate forks. Most such objects are small enough to pass on their own, but some must be removed by doctors.
The condition is perhaps best known in children and pregnant women but is also sometimes linked to psychiatric illness.
A few details of the Frenchman's case were presented Jan. 1 along with the X-ray but no explanation of the stomach mass as a challenge to New England Journal of Medicine readers in a fixture called "A Medical Mystery."
Dr. Lindsey Baden, an editor at the journal, reported that 666 readers in 73 countries mostly doctors or doctors-in-training contacted the journal to try to solve the mystery. Almost 90 percent settled on diagnoses consistent with pica, but only 8 percent correctly identified coins.
"This case serves as a reminder of important factors that should be considered in the care of patients who are mentally impaired," Baden wrote.
Online at: http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/latestnews/stories/021804dnnatcoineater.a89c8.html
His second mistake was walking inbto s french hospital.
Latin for "perky":
They also had to take out his Gall bladder.
Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres.
Another famous case of pica:
Henry King, Who chewed bits of String, and was cut off in Dreadful Agonies.
The Chief Defect of Henry King
Was chewing little bits of String.
At last he swallowed some which tied
Itself in ugly Knots inside.
Physicians of the Utmost Fame
Were called at once; but when they came
They answered as they took their Fees,
There is no Cure for this Disease.
Henry will soon be dead.
His Parents stood about his Bed
Lamenting his Untimely Death,
When Henry, with his Latest Breath,
Oh, my Friends, be warned by me,
That Breakfast, Dinner, Lunch and Tea
Are all the Human Frame requires . . .
With that the Wretched Child expires.
- Hillaire Belloc, Cautionary Verses
I discovered him at about age 7, when a summer camp counselor read the "Cautionary Verses" aloud, with feeling, to us during nap time. Enjoyed him ever since.
My favorite is probably "Matilda, Who Told Lies and Was Burned to Death" although "Rebecca, Who Slammed Doors For Fun and Perished Miserably" is running a close second.
Could those "complications" have been starvation? Hmmm...
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