In a first-of-its-kind case that presented multiple challenges a team of surgeons at AIIMS-New Delhi removed a 20-cm-long kitchen knife from a man's liver. The patient's condition is now stable, doctors have said.
The 28-year-old man had reportedly swallowed the knife a month-and-a-half ago and continued living his life normally till he started experiencing loss of appetite and abdominal pain. His family remained unaware of what he had done till the doctors did an X-ray scan.
The three-hour-long life-saving surgery to remove the knife, which was fully lodged in the liver, was performed under the supervision of surgeon Dr NR Das from the Department of Gastroenterology.
Doctors at AIIMS said that for them this was the first case of a person swallowing a whole knife and surviving. Till now, they have only seen three to four cases of patients swallowing sharp objects, including a needle, a pin and a fish hook.
The patient, who is from Haryana, was addicted to drugs and swallowed the knife after he could not get any marijuana.
"When we saw the X-ray we were shocked; there was a big knife. That's when he told us what had happened," he said.
The biggest challenge in removing the knife was its position, Dr Das and his team shared.
"The knife was dangerously close to the bile duct, and the main blood-circulating artery and vein. Any mistake by us and the patient could have bled to death. So, we cut through the intestinal wall to reach the liver and removed the knife," Dr Das said.
According to Dr Dar, first a radiologist removed pus from the patient's lungs and liver to stop infection from spreading further, then a psychiatrist started medicating and counselling the patient to give him courage and help him believe that his condition is not beyond repair. "Then his body was strengthened with supplements so he could survive the surgery, which we performed on July 19," he said, adding that the patient was referred to AIIMS from Safdarjung Hospital on July 12.