Shocked doctors treating a young girl with breathing difficulties found an unexpected cause of her worsening asthma when they discovered a fish bone lodged in her lungs.
The Emirati patient had visited numerous hospitals to try and diagnose her breathing problems that were leaving her constantly wheezy and with coughing fits.
Six months of lack of sleep and a deterioration in her quality of life encouraged her to visit specialists at the Cleveland Clinic in Abu Dhabi.
Doctors there performed a chest CT scan and noticed a small, sharp object had become lodged in her lung.
“It was something of a mystery as to why the medications that had previously controlled the patient’s asthma had suddenly lost effectiveness,” said Dr Ali Wahla, a hospital pulmonologist.
“It had got to the stage where the patient was unable to sleep. Rather than accept the prior diagnosis from other hospitals, we undertook a thorough examination to determine the cause of the symptoms.”
The patient was admitted to the hospital’s Respiratory and Critical Care Institute where doctors approached the patient’s condition from a fresh perspective.
During a chest scan, doctors found a thin, hard body with a sharp end lodged in the patient’s lung, which doctors initially thought was a toothpick.
“The moment we saw the imaging of the patient’s lungs we realized her symptoms had been triggered by a foreign object lodged in her lung,” said Dr Wahla.
“It was quite dramatic, like unearthing an artifact – people rarely inhale large items without realizing.
“It was no wonder that the patient had been coughing and wheezing.
“Her lungs and airways were reacting to the presence of what was quite a large fish bone. The top priority then was to safely remove it as soon as possible.”
Upon identifying the root cause of the symptoms, they performed a rigid bronchoscopy to examine the exact location of the item and discovered a fish bone that had been stuck there for months.
Specialists removed the bone from the patient’s lung during a second rigid bronchoscopy procedure, where they were able to grasp the fish bone with special forceps to remove it.
“The task of removing the fish bone from the lung was both complex and high-risk due to the risk of bleeding and airway wall rupture,” said Dr Wahla.
Following the treatment, doctors at the hospital prescribed oral steroids and a nebuliser to decrease inflammation in her airways as well as broad-spectrum antibiotics to ensure the bone didn’t cause an infection.
The patient has gone on the make a full recovery.