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

Image Playmobil

The BBC reports that X-rays showed a spot on the man's lung, but it wasn't a tumor.

The Playmobil toy cone had gone undetected in the man's right lung for 40 years and was found nearly three years ago by Dr. Mohammed Munavvar at the Royal Preston Hospital in the United Kingdom, according to a BMJ Case Report published Saturday.

The unnamed 47-year-old, from Preston, had been referred to a respiratory clinic after complaining of being unwell and coughing up yellow mucus for a year. Being a smoker, doctors initially suspected the mass to be a tumour until it was revealed to be a toy cleverly hidden to be played with later.

As an attempt to give a more accurate diagnosis, surgeons performed a bronchoscopy and found a Playmobil traffic cone that the patient inhaled by accident in 1977.

Paul, who lives in the village of Croston, Lancs., with his wife Helen, 46, said: "Doctors said they could see something orange down my throat but didn't know what it was".

A suspected cancer patient was given the all-clear after doctors discovered a possible tumor was in fact a toy traffic cone lodged "in the very last place he would look".

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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. "The entire team was lifted as a result - we always feel so much better going home improving a patients condition".

He had also smoked for more than 30 years, raising his risk of lung cancer, and had suffered a recent bout of pneumonia, according to The Independent.

Luckily, removing the traffic cone appears to have done the trick.

Experts said it's likely he went symptomless for so long because of how young he was when he ingested the toy, suggesting that as he grew older, his airways adapted around the foreign object. In case of infection, doctors may prescribe antibiotics and breathing therapy, according to an article by The New York Times.

A report by the British Medical Journal on the medical case said: "The man's cough had nearly gone and his symptoms had improved markedly" four months after the traffic cone was removed with a flexible bronchoscope.

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