Using magnets, doctors saved the life of a man who swallowed 639 nails.
A man in his 40s, who is unnamed for privacy reasons, ate hundreds of 2-inch-long nails during a schizophrenic episode, according to The Indian Express. He was rushed to the hospital after he complained about stomach pains and began uncontrollably vomiting.
He had stopped eating around three weeks before his family brought him to the hospital.
A CT scan showed a large mass of metal in his stomach, prompting emergency surgery.
"He was suffering from acute abdominal pain," said a doctor with knowledge of the man's condition. "An ultrasonography test was conducted in which 639 iron nails were found in his stomach. Due to the presence of so many nails, his stomach had become abnormally big. The patient had swallowed the nails with soil, and the nails did not pierce his stomach."
Doctors performed an endoscopy to get a better look at his intestines. Then, during a two-hour surgery, they cut the patient open and removed all 639 nails using magnets.
All together, the nails weighed 6.61 pounds, according to The Indian Express. Doctors said they also found soil in the man's stomach. The patient's family confirmed the man would often eat soil, but they were unaware he ate any nails.
Doctors believe the patient may have suffered from pica, a condition that causes the craving of inedible items. Pica is most commonly diagnosed in people who have schizophrenia or obsessive compulsive disorder, according to Healthline.
The doctors said they were confident they had removed all the nails from the man's stomach.
"He is in the general ward, and is recovering," said Dr Siddhartha Biswas, who oversaw the surgery. "He is not being given food orally. When such things enter a human body, there is a chance of developing sepsis. But, if he is fine for the next seven days, there is no chance of sepsis after that. His condition is closely being monitored."
Sepsis occurs when the body's natural defenses against infection trigger inflammatory responses throughout the body, according to The Mayo Clinic. It can cause organ failure or lead to death.
The patient was treated at the Calcutta Medical College and Hospital in India, according to the New York Post. Biswas says the family never imagined the man could have been eating so many nails.
"The family was asked by [the man's] psychiatrist to not disturb him so they did not bother much what he was bingeing on," said Biswas.