Having cooked some fish that her grandson caught and brought home, a 59-year-old woman suddenly sensed that something was stuck in her throat after taking a big bite of the fish. Swallowing several mouthfuls of rice and drinking several swigs of water did not help and the pain in her throat gradually got worse. She put her fingers down her throat and unexpectedly pulled out a piece of nylon string. After being rushed to the emergency room, an X-ray showed a hook-shaped object in her throat.
Liu Ching-feng, a doctor in otolaryngology department at Greater Tainan’s Chimei Medical Center, says that an endoscopy of the woman’s throat showed a silver fishhook approximately 3cm long lodged in her upper throat with a nylon fishing line several centimeters long attached to it. The spot where the hook was stuck was fairly deep. The doctor carefully removed it using a fishbone remover. The fishhook and fishing line combined were between 12cm and 13cm long.
Liu says that generally people accidentally swallow fish bones when eating fish but rarely swallow fishhooks. Half of the hook that the woman swallowed was stuck in mucous membrane, Liu says, adding that when it was removed some streaks of blood could be seen. The hook was quite sharp and if it had been forcibly swallowed it could have damaged the esophagus, trachea and even the aorta, Liu says.
If foreign objects such as fish bones or other bones get stuck in your throat while eating you should never try to swallow rice or steamed buns to dislodge the object because it could push the object farther down and cause further damage, Liu says. The best thing to do according to Liu is to stop eating and go directly to a hospital or otolaryngologist to let a doctor remove the object.
Self-induced vomiting is the wrong way to remove a foreign object stuck in your throat, Liu says, because it can make a wound caused by the fishbone or other bones even bigger. The popular folk remedy of drinking vinegar to dissolve a fishbone is also wrong, Liu says, adding that strong acid is the only way to dissolve fish bones. If vinegar could actually be used to dissolve fish bones, the acid would also severely corrode the throat as well, Liu says. At hospitals it is quite common to see patients with fish bones stuck in their throats who have drunk vinegar, but while the bone is not dissolved it instead burns the mucous membrane in the throat, Liu says.
(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)