When a 76-year-old woman with complaints of weight loss and diarrhoea was reffered for further investigation, it turned out she had a pen lodged in her stomach. What’s more, the pen had been there for 25 years. When it was removed, all her symptoms disappeared.
“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. The case was discussed at the gastrointestinal multi-disciplinary meeting and the consensus of opinion was that despite being there for 25 years without causing any problems, the pen should be removed as there has been at least one case report of a duodenal perforation caused by an ingested ballpoint pen. It was subsequently removed in a combined endoscopic and ear, nose and throat procedure under general anaesthetic.”
And after 25 years in stomach acid, the pen still worked!