Israel – Doctors at the Carmel Hospital in were able to safely removed a 20-centimeter long toothbrush from the stomach of a young woman who accidentally swallowed it while brushing her teeth.
How did it happen? Last Erev Shabbos, when she returned home from her job as a caregiver in a retirement home, Bat-El Panker – a 24-year-old resident of Kiryat Yam – went to brush her teeth. When she bent over the faucet with the toothbrush in her mouth, it slipped down her throat.
“I was really scared. I tried to throw (it) up and force it out,” Panker said. When she didn’t succeed, she rushed to the local hospital and was sent for an X-ray. But the doctors didn’t spot anything, and she was sent home.
“I begged for another exam – I knew I’d swallowed a big toothbrush – but no one believed me,” she said. “They thought I was crazy.”
The next day, suffering from pains, Panker decided to try another hospital and arrived at Carmel. In the emergency room she underwent another round of X-rays and ultrasounds, but the toothbrush remained elusive. But when the doctors sent her for a CT scan, the missing item was finally spotted.
Dr. Uri Segel, director of the hospital’s gastrointestinal unit, said that the initial diagnosis indicated surgery due to the length of the brush and the angle at which it was resting in the young woman’s stomach. However, Segel decided to try and remove it using endoscopic equipment.
He ran a flexible tube down her throat and manipulated the brush until it was at an angle that allowed it to be removed without damaging her digestive tract.
“We used standard equipment in a non-standard way and I’m happy we could help,” Segel said. “The lesson learned from this incident is that with all the technology and all our experience, doctors have to listen to the patients.”
Panker, who is still hospitalized, expressed her thanks to the medical team but said she was angry that the doctors hadn’t believed her. ”
We’re just people who want a little help when we’re hurting, and it’s important that doctors listen,” she said.