Case of a patient who accidentally swallowed a drill bit during a dental procedure
This article describes a rare case in which a dentist’s drill bit got stuck in a patient’s lung after he accidentally inhaled it during a procedure. The 60-year-old maintenance worker, Tom Jozsi, from Illinois was undergoing a filling procedure when he swallowed a part of the drill. The case report does not report the date of the accident or the identity of the dentist.
When the patient was asked how the incident occurred, Jozsi chucked and replied that he was at the dentist getting a tooth filling and the next thing he knew he had swallowed this tool. He also stated that he didn’t feel the drill bit going down. And all he felt was a cough. After speaking to a doctor at the hospital he was afraid that he may have to undergo major surgery. He said, “What happens if he can’t get it out? And really, the answer was part of my lung was going to have to get removed.”
The metal drill bit was lodged in the patient’s lung and the sharp edges of it were causing him to cough up blood. According to the pulmonologist, foreign objects in the lung usually require surgery to remove a part of the lung with the stuck object. Similarly, the foreign body was in the mouth, where there are aggressive and virulent bacteria. This bacteria can cause abscesses, therefore, the foreign objects should be removed as soon as possible.
The drill bit was removed using a device used for detecting early-stage cancers
For further evaluation, doctors advised a CAT scan which showed how deep the drill bit was. According to pulmonary expert, Dr Abdul Airaiyes, the doctor who operated on Joszi and the Aurora Medical Center-Kenosha, the drill bit was far down in the lower right lobe of his lung. This meant that the drill bit could not have been removed using an endoscope. Therefore, the doctor tried a different device that is used for detecting early-stage cancers to remove the foreign object. He believed that the size of the catheter tube was thin enough for extracting the drill piece.
Doctors recorded the extraction on video. Footage shows that the team of doctors carefully manoeuvred through the narrow airways reached the drill bit and removed it without damaging the patient’s lungs. “I was never so happy in my life when I opened my eyes and I saw him with a smile under that mask, shaking a little plastic container that had the tool in it,” said Joszi. He now keeps the drill as a memento on a shelf at his home.
Although the accident happened in March, it was made public just recently
Jozsi’s accident happened in March, but the details of the case were revealed this month. The report states that he had inhaled the drill bit on March 18th. Similarly, had his procedure to remove the drill a few days later, on March 22nd. The two-hour procedure was carried out using a robot bronchoscope with a team from various disciplines. The team included the endoscopy, radiology and anaesthesia departments. A spokeswoman for Aurora Medical Center – Kenosha, Annette Guye-Kordus, said: “Tom was very grateful for the expertise of Dr Alraiyes and the sophisticated medical technology that saved him from having major surgery and from potential infection.”
Dr Alriyes further added that he was happy to see Tom doing well. When he first got a call from the emergency doctor about the case, he knew he could help. The CT scan showed that the object was lodged deep in the lung which made it out of reach for a standard bronchoscope. However, the object was within the range of a robotic-assisted bronchoscope procedure. “Our catheter is about one-third the size, and while it’s typically used to detect early-stage lung cancer in distant areas of the lung, I knew we could adapt it to retrieve this object. I was happy to tell Tom that we could retrieve it and spare him from a more invasive surgery or possibly even losing part of his lung. This is why I do what I do.”
Alraiyes further said that he had heard of similar cases from colleagues in Michigan and Ohio, where the patients had also accidentally swallowed drill bits
Over the years, several similar cases have been reported. The Journal of American Dental Association reported a similar case where a 47-year-old woman also accidentally swallowed a tiny screwdriver back in 2014. In this case, the patient was getting a dental implant fitted when the dentist accidentally dropped a tiny screwdriver in the patient’s throat. The dentist incorrectly advised her that it would pass through her. However, two months later, it posed a serious health risk. The patient had to undergo surgery to have it removed from her colon.
In this case, the patient, Tom Jozsi was forced to undergo a medical procedure to remove an inch-long drill bit from deep inside his lung tissue because of the dentist’s negligence.