54 Yr-Old Swallows Stones, Coins To Cure Anxiety

A 54-year-old man admitted to the hospital for severe stomach pains and bloating had swallowed stones, bottle covers and coins them to cure his anxiety.

Concerned doctors ran a number of tests to see what might be the cause of the Korean patient’s painful symptoms.

They noticed that they could feel ‘something resembling small stones’ when they touched his abdomen. Scans then revealed a huge build-up of objects ‘occupying the whole stomach’ of the patient.

But the medics were left completely dumbfounded when they found a lump containing dozens of  foreign objects. A collection of stones, bottle caps and coins weighing 4.4lbs (2kg) were pulled out of his stomach.

This ‘extremely unusual’ case was published by Dr Pyong Wha Choi in the  American Journal of Medical Case Reports. The patient was thought to have swallowed the items over long period of time as a way of dealing with anxiety.

When he was questioned the man confessed he often ingested coins and pebbles whenever he felt anxious – even though he took drugs to keep calm.

The man, believed to be from Goyang – north of the capital Seoul and close to the North Korea border – was born with an intellectual disability.

At first surgeons tried to remove the objects using a gastroscopy – where a thin tube is inserted into the stomach through the mouth. But it failed due to the sheer amount of objects that were present.

It is not clear how many the man had swallowed, Dr Choi wrote in the scientific publication.The next day, surgeons extracted the foreign bodies one-by-one through a different surgical procedure.

Dr Choi wrote: “Surgery was inevitable as there were too many foreign bodies to extract using endoscopy.”

The man was discharged from Inje University Ilsan Paik Hospital and sent home after a nine-day stay. It is not known how long the items had been inside him as doctors only said he had a habit ‘in the past’.

Meanwhile, in healthy adults, objects most often swallowed include fish and chicken bones.

Choi wrote: “Once the foreign bodies pass through the oesophagus, symptoms associated with the foreign body is rare. In the present case, even though the patient did not complain of vomiting, the large number of pebbles and coins in his stomach caused him abdominal pain.”

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