A man in South Africa underwent surgery to remove 227 metal objects from his stomach that were eaten by him due to a rare eating disorder.
Photos of the contents removed from the man’s stomach showed a variety of metal objects, including coins, forks, bolts, a screwdriver and pieces of wire, and revealed the severity of the rare addiction known as Pica.
Pica is a food addiction that involves the desire to consume items with little to no nutritional value. The South African man was admitted to the hospital vomiting blood and received x-rays and tests to find the source of the problem, the Daily Mail reports.
Doctors were shocked when the x-ray revealed the hundreds of objects he’d eaten, which in total weighed 4.5 pounds. The weight of the objects caused his stomach to move from the upper to lower abdomen.
“When he first came in, we expected the patient to be suffering from an ulcer as he was vomiting blood,” Dr Maheshwar Naidoo, who led the surgical team that removed the objects, told MailOnline. “Once we saw the x-ray, we realized we were looking at a mass of overlapping metal objects and knew we had to operate quickly. There was a concern that the sharp items might perforate the stomach wall, or damage internal organs. The operation took about two hours to remove everything one-by-one, and clean the stomach properly.”
The items were removed through an incision between the belly button and the chest.
“The trickiest objects to remove were probably the two forks - but there were many very sharp objects, such as screws, nails and pieces of wire that must have been very difficult for him to swallow,” Naidoo said.
“The items had a combined weight of about 4.5lbs which resulted in the patient's stomach actually dropping," Naidoo explained. "The stomach was then cleaned and sutured. Once removed, we could see how the stomach juices had tarnished the metal so the items were very dark grey and dull.”
The unidentified man is currently recovering at home.
“These cases are not uncommon; I have seen two other similar cases during my time,” Naidoo added. “However, this is the greatest number of items that I have removed from any of my patients.”
Other recent cases of Pica highlight the unusual nature of the disease, including a case from earlier this year in which a 5-year-old boy ate paint and wallpaper from the walls of his house, according to the Daily Star.