Accidentally swallowed denture lands senior citizen in hospital

83-year-old Khar resident survives with denture stuck in throat for five days

A dental check-up landed an 83-year-old Khar resident in a hospital as he faced difficulty in swallowing food. Initially, the doctors wondered if it was a neurological problem as Anand Patil (name changed) had suffered brain stroke two years ago, as difficulty in swallowing is generally observed in patients with stroke history. It was only after a CT scan report of the food pipe that it was revealed that he had swallowed his dentures and it was stuck in his throat.

Dr Samir Bhargava, ENT surgeon at Hinduja Healthcare Surgical hospital, Khar, who attended Patil, said, “He came to us with difficulty in swallowing. He was first referred to a physician as he had a stroke history and having problem in swallowing is common in such patients. ”

He said doctors tried inserting ‘ryles tube’– a special tube that carries food and medicine to the stomach through the nose – but when the doctors faced difficulty in inserting the tube, they realised that it was not a ‘neurological’ problem, but something else.

Illustration: Milind Jadhav
Illustration: Milind Jadhav

“He was then referred to our department. We first did an X-ray, which failed to show any conclusive result. It was when we did a CT scan of the food pipe that we came to know that his dentures were the root cause of his misery,” said Bhargava.

Doctors said Patil had visited his dentist five days before he landed in the hospital with extreme difficulty in swallowing food. “When we told him and his relatives about the dentures, they recollected that they were missing. We immediately conducted a surgery,” said Bhargava.

The denture had two wires, which made the removal procedure challenging. “The wires in the denture are used to clip it with the teeth. But, these wires increased the risk quotient in the endoscopic removal procedure, as it can rip the food passage,” said Bhargava.

ENT surgeons say dentures with wires can be dangerous because it can puncture the food pipe and lead to life threatening complications. “In senior citizens, they may forget about it and can swallow it inadvertently. Accidentally swallowed dentures can lead to severe complications in the gastrointestinal tract. Therefore, an early detection and an effective therapeutic management is important,” said Dr Shashikant Mhashal, head of ENT at RN Cooper hospital.

Dr Hetal Marfatia, head of the ENT department in KEM hospital, Parel, said dentures getting stuck in the throat are common among senior citizens. “Some common causes for dentures to drop off include prolonged use, shrinking of the gums, sleeping with the dentures on and poor material of dentures ,” said Marfatia.