Missing dentures found stuck in United Kingdom man's throat

Man’s missing dentures found stuck in throat 8 days after surgery

Researchers are calling for people who wear dentures to put their shame aside and remove them if they're being given general anaesthetic after a 72-year-old man's false teeth were found lodged in his throat eight days after he underwent surgery.

Six days later, he went back to the hospital after experiencing pain, difficulty swallowing and coughing up blood.

A neck X-ray showing a man's dentures caught in his throat.

It is unclear why the man's dentures were not taken out during the surgery to remove a benign lump from the wall of his abdomen, but by the time he awoke, the teeth were nowhere to be found, the report said.

Noting a history of lung problems, doctors assumed he had a respiratory infection, according to BMJ Case Reports, a medical journal that describes medically noteworthy cases. He was discharged from hospital six days later.

He was prescribed mouthwash, antibiotics and steroids, and sent home. The man previously thought that the dentures had simply been misplaced at the hospital during the operation.

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The unidentified 72-year-old repeatedly returned to doctors after his op, complaining of agonizing pain in his throat, blood in his mouth and shortness of breath, according to a medical report.

Two days later, he returned to A&E after his symptoms appeared to get worse - he was unable to swallow any of the medicine he was admitted with suspected pneumonia.

"There are no set national guidelines on how dentures should be managed during anaesthesia, but it is known that leaving dentures in during bag-mask ventilation allows for a better seal during induction (when the anaesthetic is being infused), and therefore many hospitals allow dentures to be removed immediately before intubation (when a tube is inserted into the airway to assist breathing)", study said. A series of X-rays finally revealed the problem: a "metallic roof plate and three front teeth" stuck in his larynx.

He was discharged after two days, but returned again nine days later with further bleeding, which required emergency surgery as the source of the bleed was a torn artery in the wound.

However, all members of the surgical team need to know what's to be done with a patient's dentures, Cunniffe and her colleagues said. A check-up six weeks after his last surgery found that his blood cell count had climbed back to normal and he hadn't needed any other emergency care since.

Cunniffe, the report's author, wrote that the man's case "highlights a number of key learning points for anesthetists, theatre staff, emergency physicians and ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeons alike", but noted that it is not the first of its kind.

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