In a life-saving surgery, doctors at AIIMS Delhi successfully managed to remove a sewing needle stuck in the lungs of a seven-year-old boy using a magnet.
The boy was admitted to AIIMS on Wednesday after it was found out that there was a needle in his left lung. According to doctors who conducted the surgery, the boy or the family did not tell them how the needle got into his lungs. His family took him to a private hospital after he developed a high fever and coughed up blood, which referred him to AIIMS.
Dr Vishesh Jain, Additional Professor in the Paediatric Department, said the X-ray showed the needle was very deep in the lungs. “Conventionally, we remove foreign bodies… through bronchoscopy. The challenge here was that it (the needle) was deeper in the lungs which meant less area available for us to use our instruments…,” he said, adding, “We then came up with the idea of using a magnet, which we procured from Chandni Chowk.”
Dr Jain reached out to an acquaintance, who facilitated the procurement.
He said that had this magnet not been available or the sewing needle visible in the lung, “the boy would have required an open-heart surgery”.
“The magnet, 4 mm in width and 1.5 mm in thickness, was the perfect tool for the job,” Dr Jain said.
The child has been discharged after a safe recovery, officials said.
Elaborating on the complexities of the procedure, Dr Jain said the needle resided so profoundly within the lung that traditional methods would have proven to be almost ineffective. “This realisation prompted a brainstorming session where we explored a series of intense discussions among the surgical team, aimed at exploring innovative solutions to safely and effectively extract the needle,” he said.
He added that the primary objective was to manoeuvre the magnet to the needle’s location without any risk of dislodging it into the trachea. The team ingeniously devised a specialised instrument equipped with only one jaw, to which the magnet was securely affixed using thread and a rubber band.
The team started the procedure with an endoscopy of the windpipe to assess the needle’s location within the left lung – they could only see only the tip.
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“The magnet-tipped instrument was carefully inserted. It seemed almost magical as the needle responded to the magnetic force, smoothly emerging from its concealed location. It was successfully extracted,” Dr Jain said.
Dr Jain said that there have been many such instances where children swallow strange things.
“Sometime back, we had a case of a 9-month-old child who had consumed a jhumka (earring) which had to be removed by us. In another incident, a four-year-old child swallowed a shoe whistle,” he added.