Gujarat: 1.5 kg metal pieces retrieved from woman’s stomach

When you were a child you might have had an odd habit of eating mud, paper or chalk. But eventually we all outgrow that habit. What if you had an illness which makes you want to compulsively eat metal? What would that be like? Would your stomach be able to handle it?


A few months ago, doctors in Ahmedabad, Gujarat operated upon a woman who had the habit of eating metal. The woman suffers from bipolar disorder which is a mental health condition. The tendency of consuming metal is known as Acuphagia. It is a variation of pica which is a tendency to eat substances other than normal food.

The surgery was performed on August 31, on the patient named Prathibha (name changed) who was found abandoned on the road and was taken to the hospital.

After doing the initial X-ray doctors at the Ahmedabad Civil Hospital saw that there were many foreign bodies inside her stomach. The surgery was performed on an emergency basis.

The surgery was done through an abdomen incision, the doctors removed 1.5 kgs of waste scrap material was removed from the woman’s stomach.

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Dr Nitin Parmar, a Senior Surgeon working at Ahmedabad Civil hospital, said, “The patient had been admitted to the hospital with a complaint of severe stomach ache. After the preliminary investigation, we found that several foreign bodies were inside her stomach. We immediately performed surgery on her. And we removed 25 to 30 odd metal pieces from her stomach.”

“When we pulled the scrap from inside her stomach, we were shocked to see the things that we had recovered. The patient had eaten pin, steel, chain and other material. We were amazed that it was weighing around 1.5 KGs. Now the lady has been admitted to the government mental hospital,” added Dr Parmar.

Dr Priyanka Mahajan, a psychiatrist at Masina Hospital in Byculla, Mumbai said, “Pica is eating things of non-nutritional value. Trichotillomania is pulling hair and some people end up eating it, leading to formation of trichobezoar (a mass found trapped in the gastrointestinal system) formed from the ingestion of hair. In Pica, people generally people eat paint, chalks etc,. but eating clips and metal is rare.”