Swallowed Playmobil traffic cone 'in man's lung for 40 years'

Image Playmobil

How did a toy end up embedded in the man's lungs?

We report the unique case of an endobronchial Playmobil traffic cone that went undetected for 40 years and presented as a suspected bronchogenic carcinoma.

The unidentified patient, who reportedly works as a handyman, was initially suspected to have cancer when doctors found a mass in his lungs, said The Daily Mail.

The unidentified handyman, who lives in the United Kingdom, was suffering with coughing and mucus after being treated for pneumonia, and when doctors looked at X-rays of his lungs, they found something in his right lung that looked like a malignant tumour.

When doctors tried to remove a mass that looked like a malignant tumor, they were surprised to find a "long lost Playmobil traffic cone". "I don't remember eating them", he said, "But obviously I've had it in my mouth, and like the doctor said, I've inhaled it".

The report added that doctors writing for online medical repository BMJ Case Reports now consider him a medical mystery, due to the length of time that passed without him displaying any symptoms.

However, a bronchoscopy found that it was in fact the Playmobil cone which he revealed he had swallowed at the age of 7.

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"For example, during childhood it may have been absorbed into the mucosal lining of the bronchus which developed around it", they wrote.

"However, a case in which the onset of symptoms occurs so long after initial aspiration is unheard of in the literature", the authors wrote in the paper, noting the patient had not experienced symptoms until the previous year.

For more than a year, he had felt ill, inexplicably coughing up phlegm.

Paul said: "The operation was under local anesthetic and when they removed the cone in the theatre it was hilarious, everyone in the room just laughed".

"Four months after removal of the tiny traffic cone, his productive cough had nearly entirely settled and a chest X-ray only showed minor residual consolidation (blockage in the lung)".

Because the man was so young when he swallowed the traffic cone, the report said, his airway may have been able to remodel and adapt to the presence of a foreign body.

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