WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Eight days after a minor surgery, a 72-year-old man from Britain went to the ER complaining of difficulties in swallowing and having bouts of bleeding.
- Results from an x-ray found that the man’s dentures were stuck on top of his throat.
- Based on previous reports, incidences of dentures going astray before surgery typically occur during the insertion of tubes into the airways.
Here’s why false teeth should always be removed before surgery: You might accidentally swallow them.
As reported in a medical journal, a 72-year-old British man apparently got his partial dentures lodged in his throat during surgery which was only discovered eight days later.
The patient thought he lost his dentures while he was hospitalized for minor surgery. He went back to the emergency room because of swallowing problems and was also coughing up blood. After he was diagnosed with pneumonia after an x-ray, doctors sent him home with antibiotics and steroids. The problem was only revealed after a second x-ray at another hospital. His dentures consisting of a metal roof plate and three false teeth were found to be stuck at the top of his throat.
How it happened remained unclear, but based on previous documented cases, dentures had actually gotten lost prior to surgery.
One way is when placing a tube in a patient’s airway where things can be pushed to areas where they don’t belong, said anesthesiologist Dr. Mary Dale Peterson, of Driscoll Children’s Hospital in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Peterson also added that retainers, loose teeth and tongue piercings can also cause problems. She said that she would pull out a very loose tooth before a child’s surgery because they can be knocked down the throat when tubes are inserted into the airway.
As for the British case, the man who was unnamed in the journal article had several bleeding episodes after his dentures were removed from his throat. He required further surgery before he eventually recovered.
Meanwhile, what can we learn from this case?
BMJ Case Reports associate editor Dr. Rui Amaral Mendes said that rather relying heavily on scans and tests, doctors should carefully listen to their patients and know all the details of what happened.
As for the patients, Mendes said that their role is to notify their doctors of any mouth problem before surgery which includes dentures, blisters and serious gum disease.
He advised patients this: “Stay on the safe side, and inform your physician of what’s going on in your mouth.”
The paper was published on Monday by the BMJ Case Reports.