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Doctors fish out crab shell from 55-year-old Mumbai man's throat

Prabhakar Salunkhe landed in hospital complaining of nausea and body ache; it was after much probing that doctors realised it could be something he ate the night before

A hearty dinner landed Goregaon resident Prabhakar Salunkhe (55) in the hospital with symptoms like nausea and intense body ache.

The crab shell remained lodged in Salunkhe’s food pipe for at least 15 hours
The crab shell remained lodged in Salunkhe’s food pipe for at least 15 hours

While at first, doctors were baffled as to what was causing him such extreme discomfort as a series of tests didn’t show any strange object in his throat they later found and removed a crab shell lodged in his oesophagus (food pipe) which was at least 2 cms in diameter.

The carapace must have got mixed up with the prawns he bought and later cooked, he said. However, despite the lack of evidence, doctors were convinced that a foreign body was the cause behind these symptoms.

“On May 5, I had to be rushed to the hospital by my supervisor from work, as I suddenly felt like vomiting and experienced back and stomach aches,” said Salunkhe, who works in the cargo-shipping department of the city’s domestic airport.

When doctors at Andheri’s Seven Hills Hospital conducted an X-ray and laryngoscopy (examination of the back of the throat), they could not detect any foreign body. “Doctors then asked me what I had eaten the previous night, and I told them I had had some non-vegetarian food at home,” he said.

Lump in throat
The hospital gastroenterologist, Dr Sunit Shukla, then referred him to the ENT department, where a rigid oesophagoscopy procedure was conducted under anaesthesia.

“We were convinced that something he might have consumed was the problem. In this procedure, the inside of the oesophagus is observed using an endoscope,” said Dr Sangeet Poddar, the consultant ENT surgeon.

The crab shell was then removed carefully to avoid it from injuring his oesophagal wall. Twenty-four hours after the procedure, which was conducted recently, Salunkhe was given a discharge. “The crab shell was in his food pipe for at least 15 hours,” added Dr Poddar.

Salunkhe’s employing company footed the hospital bills. He has now completely recovered from the ordeal. “I am glad I was able to resume my work so soon. Doctors had told me I was at risk of infection and other complications, had there been any further delay,” added Salunkhe.

Doctors at the hospital said any food or other object lodged in the oesophagus can result in injury to other vital structures in the region, like the airway, great vessels and mediastimun, and can even cause life-threatening infection.

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