Healthcare News & Insights

Pen removed from patient after 25 years — and it still writes!!

This case is a medical marvel — and a stunning promotional tool for some pen company. A 76-year-old woman went to the doctor complaining about weight loss and some other gastrointestinal symptoms.

Routine testing discovered she had diverticulitis, and a follow-up CT scan showed she had a foreign body in her stomach. It turned out to be a pen.

The woman told her doctor that about 25 years earlier, she had been poking at a spot on her tonsil with the pen when she slipped, fell and accidentally swallowed the pen. At the time, both her husband and her doctor dismissed the possibility and said she must have been mistaken. (X-rays taken at the time showed no pen in her gut.)

On this most recent visit to the doctor, the pen was removed — and found to still work. Her symptoms have gone away, and the hospital is using the case as a teaching example of two rules: 1) Abdominal X-rays don’t show every single foreign object, and 2) Even if a patient’s story sounds unbelievable, it may just be true.

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  1. What kind of pen was it? Bic, Papermate, Parker, etc.