14 December 2019

Simple fix freed this boy's tongue trapped in bottle

A German doctor managed to dislodge a boy's tongue from a juice bottle with the help of a catheter and a syringe.

When a seven-year-old's tongue got stuck in a juice bottle, one savvy doctor used an old trick to release it.

The boy was trying to get the last drop of juice when his tongue created a vacuum and he couldn't get it out of the bottle. When he arrived at Auf der Bult Children's Hospital in Hannover, Germany, his tongue was swollen and discoloured.

At first doctors tried lubricating the tongue and twisting it out of the bottle. But that didn't work. They wanted to avoid more invasive measures that would require general anaesthesia and cutting the bottle away.

So they next tried putting a thin catheter into the bottle around the boy's tongue, hoping that would release the vacuum. That, too, had no effect.

That did the trick

Then, one doctor recalled a way he had once popped a cork out of a wine bottle when he couldn't find a corkscrew. They attached a syringe to the catheter and forced air into the bottle.

That did the trick, and doctors were able to separate the boy from the bottle at last.

"We found only one previous report of a positive pressure technique similar to the one used by us in our patient," said Dr Christoph Eich, a paediatric emergency doctor at the hospital.

"The idea to attempt to inject air into the bottle to produce positive pressure was inspired by my personal recollection of successfully uncorking a wine bottle while working as an anaesthetic registrar, with the use of a syringe-and-cannula technique on an occasion when no corkscrew was available," he said in a news release from the European Society of Anaesthesiology.

The boy was admitted to the hospital for 24 hours of observation, and given prednisolone and ibuprofen to reduce the swelling in his tongue.

When he left the hospital, the swelling had mostly disappeared, but it took about three days for the discoloration to go away. After two weeks, he had fully recovered.

The report was published in the European Journal of Anaesthesiology.

Image credit: iStock


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