Sunday, September 26, 2010
Things Growing in Lungs
Last month an elderly man in Massachusetts developed a collapsed lung and pneumonia. Usually this means an undiagnosed cancer is lurking. Imagine his relief and surprise to find out it was a pea growing in his lung. That little accidentally inhaled pea started sprouting. It seems that odd things found in lungs is not all that rare. The trachea and the esophagus are really side by side and it is easy to "aspirate" and have food, liquid or objects head into the trachea and then to the bronchus, where it should not be.
What other things have been found in the bronchi and lungs? One surgeon found a belly button ring. Fishbones as well as nuts, beans, little candies or food particles are easily inhaled into the bronchial tubes. Balloons are common as are hot dogs and even small toys. Even partial dentures are found and many times the elderly person didn't know where they lost it.
Children are especially susceptible to foreign body aspiration. 90% of all incidents happen in children under age 4. Small lithium "button" batteries are dangerous for children and are often swallowed. The national Capital Poison Control Center even has a special 24-hour hotline for battery ingestion cases at 202-625-3333. Swallowing one of these batteries is a medical emergency.
What is the most common foreign body (after food) that gets stuck in children? You guessed it...coins.
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