Health Care

Not cancer, but small traffic cone

Not cancer, but small traffic cone

He had also been diagnosed with pneumonia two months earlier and had been a long-term smoker. This all meant less air was entering his lungs.

Dr Munavvar, who has spent 20 of his 30 years as a doctor at Royal Preston, said: "Usually the patient remembers they have inhaled something but in Paul's case he just didn't". The doctor noticed extensive shadowing and a thickening lump in the lower right lung.

"We acted quickly because a bacterial infection could spread to other regions outside of the lungs", said Munavvar.

According to the BBC, doctors reported the oddity in the British Medical Journal, in part because they were surprised the traffic cone had stayed undetected for so long.

According to the BMJ report, the airway of the then 7 year-old could have remodeled to adapt to the presence of the toy, explaining why the patient had no side effect for decades. Specialists evacuated the little plastic cone with forceps.

Any symptoms would have been further masked when the patient started smoking, the doctors said.

"Four months after removal of the tiny traffic cone, his productive cough had nearly entirely settled and a chest X-ray only showed minor residual consolidation (blockage in the lung)".

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Experts said it's likely he went symptomless for so long because of how young he was when he ingested the toy, suggesting that as he grew older, his airways adapted around the foreign object.

The toy cone has apparently stayed lodged inside Baxter's lungs for 40 years.

Children who breathe a foreign object into their nose can experience choking or breathing problems.

"If the child chokes on (an) object and develops a chronic cough, that's when you should worry". In adults, the syndrome mimics bronchogenic carcinomas, and although hard to diagnose, Munavvar noted that chronic coughing is a strong indicator of a possible irregularity in the lungs.

Doctors noted that a case of a child swallowing something taking this long to show symptoms is "unheard of".

Baxter said he didn't recall how it happened.