01 November 2019

A man had a parcel filled with dagga stuck up his nose for 18 years

When drug mules conceal their loot, they usually do a good job. One man outdid himself by concealing a dagga 'parcel' inside his nose for 18 years.

When smuggling contraband, the objective is to be as creative and secretive as possible. An Australian man went to extraordinary lengths to ensure that his loot would not be found.

He hid a balloon filled with dagga inside his nasal cavity to evade detection – but the mass ended up remaining there for almost two decades, according to the first medical report of this kind published in the BMJ.

Tiny parcel of dagga

The 48-year-old man started suffering from headaches and went for scans to determine the cause of the problem. The scans revealed a “firm grey mass” in his right nostril, called a rhinolith in medical terms.

 Ear nose and throat specialists at Westmead Hospital in Sydney performed an endoscopy under general anaesthetic to remove the mass, which was described as a “rubber capsule containing plant matter”.

The man explained that, at the age of 30, his girlfriend at the time brought him a tiny parcel of dagga while he was in a correctional facility. He stuck the parcel up his nose to smuggle it past the guards. When trying to get it out, he believed that he accidentally swallowed it and forgot about it.

According to the medical report, the man suffered from symptoms of nasal obstruction and sinusitis during the 18 years, but it was only after the recurring headaches that he decided to seek medical help, blissfully unaware of the obstruction in his nose.

What is a a rhinolith?

According to the case study in the BMJ, a rhinolith is a hard, calcareous concretion in the nasal cavity, usually formed around a place where bacteria might have multiplied (also called a nidus) such as an abscess or a dislodged tooth, or any other foreign body.

The most common causes seen by ENTs are usually caused by foreign matter inserted up the nose by children – plastic beads, small toys etc, but the drug parcel was the first incident of its kind, according to Science Alert.

The verdict? Don’t smuggle contraband and don’t insert foreign matter up your nose.

Image credit: iStock


Ask the Expert

Sinusitis Expert

Dr Gary Kroukamp MBCHB, FCORL(SA) is an ENT Specialist, practising from rooms at Kingsbury Hospital in Claremont, Cape Town. He also has a teaching sessional appointment as an ENT Consultant at the Tygerberg Hospital. He is a member of the ENT Society of South Africa and the South African Cochlear Implantation Group. His interests in the ENT field include sinusitis and sinus surgery, nasal allergy and ENT conditions in children.

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