Write Ho! The Long-Lost, Ingested Pen Turns Up

Medicine and literary production combine in a fairly unusual way in this study:

An incidental finding of a gastric foreign body 25 years after ingestion,” Oliver Richard Waters, Tawfique   Daneshmend, Tarek Shirazi, BMJ Case Reports, 2011. The authors, at Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital Foundation Trust, Exeter, UK, report:

A 76-year-old female, with a blameless medical history other than well-controlled depression, was referred for urgent investigation due to weight loss and diarrhoea. A flexible sigmoidoscopy demonstrated severe diverticulosis and a subsequent CT abdomen showed a linear foreign body in the stomach but no other abnormality (figure 1). Her symptoms resolved spontaneously. On subsequent questioning, she recalled unintentionally swallowing a pen 25 years earlier. While she was interrogating a spot on her tonsil with the pen she slipped, fell and swallowed the pen by mistake. Her husband and general practitioner dismissed her story and plain abdominal films done at the time were reported as normal. A gastroscopy demonstrated a plastic felt-tip pen sitting in the lumen of the stomach without evidence of any gastric damage…. It was subsequently removed in a combined endoscopic and ear, nose and throat procedure under general anaesthetic. The pen was still in working order (figure 2).