Daily Health Tips: What To Do About A Swallowed Metal Foreign Object

Q: Hello Doc, I swallowed a piece of metal about seven years ago and I think I’ m having complications now. I search online on my situation and I’m pretty scared my question is can metal stay for a long period of time in the human body and by which methods can they be removed? Thank You!


A: Thanks for writing in, dear.


7 years, you said?! I am almost sure whatever you swallowed has long disappeared from your body during a bowel motion. The oesophagus is the narrowest part of the digestive system and so if it managed to pass through that area, chances are that it has gone out of your body in a bowel motion (through faeces).


However, if one has had surgery in the stomach with scar tissue formation or surgery in the intestines etc, swallowed foreign objects may be held up in the digestive system even though they have passed through the oesophagus. Management of cases like this is usually conservative (management that avoids invasive practices like surgery). Patients may be given high fiber diets, bulking agents, liquid paraffin etc. But all of these would depend on what the clinician discovered on investigation of the patient.


You didn’t mention what complications you appear to be having. Whatever they are, please see your doctor to have it checked out. It may not be linked to what you had swallowed before. But better be safe than sorry.


Have a good night, everyone J

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