Doctors found a toy traffic cone inside a 47-year-old man from Preston who presumably had lung cancer. He had been experiencing a persistent cough for over a year when he sought medical advice in a respiratory clinic. Scans revealed something on the man’s lung, and medics suspected he had a tumor.

As an attempt to give a more accurate diagnosis, surgeons performed a bronchoscopy and found a Playmobil traffic cone that the patient inhaled by accident in 1977. The object, which was removed with biopsy forceps, had been in the man’s body since his seventh birthday.

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Following the procedure, the patient told doctors that he used to play with and often swallowed tiny pieces of Playmobil as a child, as written in a report published in the British Medical Journal. The unnamed man believes he inhaled this plastic traffic cone shortly after he received it as a birthday gift.

When an X-ray showed a mass on the patient’s lung, they thought the most plausible explanation was that it was a tumor given the man’s record as a long-term smoker. The man had not experienced any ill-effects for years until he started complaining of coughing up yellow mucus. Given that he had inhaled the object at a very young age, doctors believe the patient’s airway developed the ability to remodel and adapt to the presence of the toy for four decades, according to the report.

Although it is not uncommon for kids to swallow or inhale small toy pieces, it is the first time they hear of a case in which symptoms begin to appear after so many years, the health workers wrote.

The patient’s symptoms improved significantly four months after doctors removed the tracheobronchial foreign body from his lung.

“On a positive note, his symptoms improved markedly and he finally found his long-lost Playmobil traffic cone in the very last place he would look,” the medics said, as reported by The Guardian.

What to do if a kid inhales a small object?

Children who breathe a foreign object into their nose can experience choking or breathing problems. Such accidents can cause inflammation and infection. Those at higher risk are children age 1 to 3.

Parents and guardians are strongly recommended to seek medical advice as soon as they realize their children have inhaled an object. Even if the little ones stop coughing, they should be watched just in case symptoms of infection or irritation may appear.

X-rays are commonly used, but bronchoscopy is sometimes required to confirm the diagnosis and take the object out of the patient’s body. In case of infection, doctors may prescribe antibiotics and breathing therapy, according to an article by The New York Times.

Experts recommend to call a health care provider or emergency numbers such as 911 if parents realize their kids have inhaled or swallowed a small object.

Source: The Guardian