PORTLAND, Ore. – An Oregon man who went to a hospital complaining of a headache was found to have 12 nails embedded in his skull from a suicide attempt with a nail gun, doctors say.
Surgeons removed the nails with needle-nosed pliers and a drill, and the man survived with no serious lasting effects, according to a report on the medical oddity in the current issue of the Journal of Neurosurgery.
The unidentified 33-year-old man was suicidal and high on methamphetamine last year when he fired the nails — up to 2 inches in length — into his head one by one.
The nails were not visible when doctors first examined the man in the emergency room of an unidentified Oregon hospital a day later. Doctors were surprised when X-rays revealed six nails clustered between his right eye and ear, two below his right ear and four on the left side of his head.
The study did not say how long the nails were, and a hospital spokeswoman refused to release that information. A photo published in the study suggests the nails range from 1 1/2 to 2 inches long.
No one before is known to have survived after intentionally firing so many foreign objects into the head, according to the report, written by Dr. G. Alexander West, the neurosurgeon who oversaw the treatment of the patient.
The man at first told doctors he had had a nail gun accident, but later admitted it was a suicide attempt.
The nails came close to major blood vessels and the brain stem but did not pierce them. The patient was in remarkably good condition when he was transferred to Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, where the nails were removed.
The patient was later transferred to psychiatric care and stayed under court order for nearly a month before leaving against doctors' orders.