Mumbai: 3-year-old almost suffocates to death one month after eating betel nut

Updated: Dec 19, 2017, 11:12 IST | Rupsa Chakraborty | Mumbai

Betel nut gets lodged in 3-year-old's lungs; Bombay Hospital doc removes it without surgery

Taking their eyes off their precocious toddler for a few moments at a wedding function almost cost the Chaudharys their daughter. A month ago, three-year-old Aiza Chaudhary, a Kurla resident, had somehow managed to get some supari (betel nut) into her mouth at a wedding function. A small bit of it, however, became lodged in her lungs, but she felt no discomfort for an entire month.

The piece of supari that was removed from toddler's lungs
The piece of supari that was removed from toddler's lungs

Develops pneumonia
Suddenly, last week, she developed pneumonia. When medication didn't improve her condition, a CT scan revealed a blockage in her wind pipe that was making it difficult for her to breathe. The scan report showed something stuck in the left lobe of her lungs, but the doctors could not tell what exactly it was. Dr Pratibha Singhal, chest physician, interventional pulmonologist at Bombay Hospital, said, "The CT scan showed pneumonia, probably caused due to a blockage. The doctors suspected it to be a food particle, but only after it was removed, was it discovered that it was supari.

Dr Pratibha Singhal, Bombay Hospital
Dr Pratibha Singhal, Bombay Hospital

Docs can't remove supari
Aiza was admitted to a hospital where the doctors tried to perform two rigid bronchoscopies, a procedure performed for both diagnosis and treatment of lung disorders, but they could not remove the offending particle. In fact, in the second bronchoscopy procedure, the particle got lodged further into her lungs.

Docs try different procedure
She added, "As in children the most likely reason for lung blockage is a foreign body, she initially underwent a procedure called rigid bronchoscopy. But, the particle only got lodged deeper, hence I removed it with flexible bronchoscopy. This procedure helped avoid the need for surgery to remove the part of the lung where the supari had become stuck."

Child recovering
Aiza is now recovering at Bombay Hospital. "We have put the child on antibiotics and she will be discharged in the next two days. The swelling in the lungs will subside over the next two or three weeks," said Dr Singhal. The parents were initially puzzled about how the supari had got into Aiza's lungs, but when they asked her, she told them she had eaten it at a wedding last month. "We don't know when she got her hands on the supari at the wedding. We were very scared as she couldn't breathe properly," said her father who works with a shop at Kurla and who did not wish to be named.

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