Dental brace wire lodged in intestine for a decade, doctors say

A woman in Australia discovered more than she anticipated when she went to the doctor due to stomach pains -- only to find a dental brace wire that had been lodged in her intestine for a decade.

The 30-year-old woman went to the doctor complaining about intense stomach pains, BMJ Case Reports wrote in a medical article published on Monday. Her heart was beating faster than normal and her abdominal wall was inflamed.

However, doctors remained stumped when laboratory tests, ultrasound and scans of her liver, gallbladder and bile ducts turned up normal. She also did not have any recent surgery done.

"Then we looked at kidney function and liver function as well to tell if there was some kind of larger problem affecting other organs," Dr. Talia Shepherd, who worked on the woman's case, told Popular Science. 

Doctors then conducted a CT scan where they discovered a nearly 3-inch dental brace wire lodged into her intestine.

"We were all a bit dumbfounded," Shepherd recalled. "It wasn't what I was expecting to find at all."

The woman developed a condition called volvulus, when the intestine twists around itself.

"The wire penetrated through the small bowel and the small bowel mesentery and to another loop of the mid–small bowel," the BMJ article read.

The woman told doctors she had braces at least 10 years ago and didn't recall swallowing the brace or even having one missing. She later underwent surgery to remove the dental brace wire.

Shepherd told Popular Science it's common for people to swallow objects, but it usually doesn't take more than a decade to be noticed.

"The case is so unique because normally if you swallow something like that it presents (itself) earlier," Shepherd said.