A 72-year-old British man was the unfortunate victim of his own dentures after going to the hospital for fairly minor surgery. While at the hospital to remove a harmless lump from his abdominal wall, the patient was put under anesthesia. The surgery went swimmingly, but in the days following the surgery, the patient complained of his mouth “tasting of blood,” as well as difficulties breathing and eating solid food. It took two additional trips to the hospital for medical staff to figure out what was really wrong with this poor man.
As it turns out, during that initial surgery, the 72-year-old patient hadn’t removed his dentures and they wound up slipping out of his mouth and lodged themselves in his throat. After a few days of pain and discomfort, not to mention a diet excluding solid foods, the patient returned to the hospital to complain of his new symptoms. Unfortunately, the medical staff couldn’t figure out what exactly was ailing him right away. At first, they simply assumed that it was pneumonia of some sort and prescribed him a round of antibiotics and steroids. After a few more days of pain, the poor man made his way once again to the same hospital, though at least this time he got some more promising results.
An x-ray revealed that the man’s dentures had lodged themselves in his throat, causing all his troubles. The dentures were finally removed without too much fuss and after spending six extra days in the hospital to recover, the patient is now fully healed. Just think, all of this pain could have been avoided if the surgeons had simply removed the man’s dentures before putting him under anesthesia. Now Dr. Harriet A Cunniffe, an otolaryngologist at James Paget University Hospital in the U.K., is urging changes to procedures involving dentures, saying that this case should be a learning experience for surgeons.
“In addition to reminding us of the risks of leaving dentures in during induction of anesthesia … this case also highlights a number of important learning points,” she wrote in a study about the case.
What would you do if you or a loved one found yourself in this situation? Let us know in the comments below!