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Missing dentures found stuck in throat 8 days after surgery

13 August 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.

Doctors at the Great Yarmouth hospital believed it was a respiratory infection and side effects from having a tube in his throat during surgery, and prescribed antibiotics and steroids. They found a semi-circular object lying across his vocal cords, which had caused internal swelling and blistering, according to a report in the BMJ Case Reports medical journal.

A man who inhaled his false teeth while under aesthetic had the dentures stuck in his throat for eight days.

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.

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The presence of any false teeth or dental plates in patients should be clearly documented before and after any surgery, said Dr. Harriet Cunniffe, lead author of a case study on the elderly patient's ordeal.

Over the next six weeks, he was trapped in a cycle where the bleeding from his throat seemed to stop and he was discharged from the hospital, only for him to start bleeding again and being readmitted.

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.

After another two days in the hospital, he was sent home. He was then discharged from the hospital 6 days later. Tests revealed that he had internal wound tissue around the site of the blistering which was cauterised to prevent further bleeding.

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

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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.

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.

The report brings attention to the lack of guidelines regarding dentures in surgeries that require general anesthesia.

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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Missing dentures found stuck in throat 8 days after surgery