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Farmer, 61, dies after accidentally swallowing 2cm-long fish bone

Farmer, 61, dies after accidentally swallowing 2cm long fish bone

  • Farmer was left with crippling stomach pains for three days after eating the fish
  • He went to the District General Hospital in the coastal town of Mannar, Sri Lanka
  • Doctors discovered that a bone had torn his intestine, leading to a fatal infection

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A farmer died after accidentally swallowing a fish bone, doctors in Sri Lanka have revealed.

The 61-year-old, who was not identified, had no idea he had ever ingested the 2cm (0.8in) shard.

It was only discovered after he went to hospital three days later complaining of crippling stomach pains and bouts of vomiting.

Surgeons in the coastal city of Mannar, who operated on him, discovered that it had pierced his intestine and allowed faeces to leak out.

This led to a life-threatening infection that triggered sepsis, when the body’s immune system overreacts and begins to damage its own organs and tissues.

The man died of cardiac arrest – a potential complication of sepsis – eight hours after he was admitted.

A 61-year-old Sri Lankan farmer died after swallowing a 2cm fish bone that pierced his intestine and caused a fatal infection

A 61-year-old Sri Lankan farmer died after swallowing a 2cm fish bone that pierced his intestine and caused a fatal infection

What is peritonitis and how is it treated?

Peritonitis is inflammation of the peritoneum – a silk-like membrane that lines your inner abdominal wall and covers the organs in your abdomen – which is usually caused by a bacterial or fungal infection.

There are two types of peritonitis:

  • Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis. Sometimes peritonitis develops as a complication of liver disease, such as cirrhosis or kidney disease.
  • Secondary peritonitis. Peritonitis can be caused by rupture (perforation) in your stomach, or as a complication of other medical conditions.

Peritonitis requires immediate medical attention to fight the infection and, if necessary, to treat any underlying medical conditions.

Symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating, fever, vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea, low urine output, constipation, fatigue, and confusion.

Treatment usually involves antibiotics and in some cases surgery.

Left untreated, peritonitis can lead to serious, potentially life-threatening infection throughout your body.

Source: Mayo Clinic

His tale was reported in International Journal of Surgery Case Reports.

Dr. Chathura Karunatileke and colleagues at Mannar’s District General Hospital said: ‘Gastrointestinal perforations are rarely caused by fish bones.

‘However, the presentation is largely non-specific and is often diagnosed during surgical procedures.

‘The outcome is favorable in most cases, but late presentation narrows the crucial therapeutic window.

‘Small resources, such as a lack of advanced imaging modalities, confound the outcome of delayed diagnosis.’

The man’s illness came on slowly over the three days.

He was confused on arrival at the hospital and his stomach was swollen and protruding.

This led the doctors to suspect that he was in septic shock.

The man, who had type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, was taken to intensive care.

Scans showed that his abdomen was filled with fluid, a sign that his kidneys had suddenly stopped working properly – which may have been caused by sepsis.

Surgeons operated on him for two hours and discovered the fish bone had caused a 5mm hole in his small intestine.

This resulted in faecal peritonitis, the medical term for an infection of the stomach lining which is specifically triggered by faeces.

Yellow pus built up around the hole and the intestine swelled in size due to the reaction.

They cut out a 10 cm stretch of intestine and drained the fluid with the goal of reattaching the healthy intestine in another operation.

But his condition worsened during the procedure.

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