False teeth found in patient's throat a week after op

72-year-old man's dentures got stuck in his throat during surgery and weren't discovered for 8 days

72-year-old man’s dentures got stuck in his throat during surgery and weren’t discovered for 8 days

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.

By the time he visited the emergency room six days after the surgery, he couldn't even eat solid food. Pictured, an X-ray of the man's neck.

When the pain intensified, ER doctors noticed "a metallic semicircular object" - with the retired electrician telling them "his dentures had been lost" during surgery eightdays earlier, the report states.

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. 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. However, after six days, he had started to feel some pain and was struggling to swallow, so returned to A&E.

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They prescribed mouthwash and antibiotics, and sent him on his way.

However, two days later, he returned to the hospital for a third time, this time with worsening symptoms that left him unable to swallow the medication he had been given.

He underwent repeated hospital visits, more surgery and blood transfusions to correct the complications from the routine abdominal surgery.

Believing he had pneumonia, the pensioner was given another chest X-ray, only for it to reveal an object lying across his vocal cords and pressing against a part of the throat.

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Lead author Harriet Cunniffe, from James Paget Hospital in eastern England, is calling for surgeons to ensure dentures are removed from patients before an operation. He returned nine days later with more bleeding caused by a torn artery in the wound. The article did not identify the man or the hospital.

A check-up a week after this procedure showed that the tissue was healing well, and six weeks later he had not needed further emergency care and his blood count was back to normal.

The report's authors said there had been other documented cases of dentures being inhaled during anaesthetic.

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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"As a result of this, processes have been reviewed, amended as necessary, and the lessons learnt have been shared with staff", she said.

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