Missing dentures found stuck in throat 8 days after surgery

The man's case brings attention to the risks of leaving dentures in the mouths of patients undergoing surgeries that require general anesthesia, wrote the article's author, Harriet A. Cunniffe, an otolaryngologist at James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in the United Kingdom.

Six days later, he went back to the hospital after experiencing pain, difficulty swallowing and coughing up blood.

Doctors were unable to diagnose their patient and sent him home with a prescription for mouthwash, steroids and antibiotics, CNN writes.

An X-ray shows dentures in a senior's throat.

When this was explained to him, the man revealed that his dentures, which consisted of a metal roof plate and three false teeth, had been lost during his previous hospital stay.

But when a new set of doctors actually looked inside the man's throat, after the man again complained about his symptoms, they quickly spotted something lodged across his larynx. 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.

But he returned two days later with worsening symptoms and was admitted to the hospital with suspected aspiration pneumonia-a severe chest infection. He was discharged from hospital six days later.

Ultimately, more surgery was needed to resolve the problem.

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He couldn't even swallow the medication he was discharged with and had to sleep upright on the sofa as he found it hard to breathe when lying down. Pictured, an X-ray of the man's chest.

While examining his throat, doctors found "a metallic semicircular object overlying the vocal cords and completely obstructing their view".

Bouts of bleeding brought him back to the hospital a week later, and then 10 days after that.

But by this time the patient had lost so much blood that he required a blood transfusion.

He was discharged after two days, but returned again nine days later with further bleeding, which required emergency surgery as the source of the bleed was a torn artery 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.

Cunniffe, the report's author, wrote that the man's case "highlights a number of key learning points for anesthetists, theatre staff, emergency physicians and ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeons alike", but noted that it is not the first of its kind.

  • Ismael Montgomery