Indian man has 63 spoon handles removed from stomach

Patient believed to be suffering from a condition causing him to compulsively eat cutlery

Indian doctors removed 63 steel spoon handles from the stomach of a 32-year-old man in northern Muzaffarnagar city. Photo: Dr Rakesh Khurana
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Doctors in India removed more than 60 steel spoon handles from the stomach of a man who they believe had become addicted to swallowing cutlery.

The patient was rushed to a hospital at the weekend after complaining of excruciating stomach pain and underwent emergency surgery to remove the metal objects.

The 32-year-old man was unable to eat or drink and complained of feeling weak at the time of admission, prompting doctors to take X-rays and CT scans to determine the cause of the pain, a doctor at Evan hospital in northern Muzaffarnagar city said on Wednesday.

The doctor said initially they suspected it to be a tumour, but on a closer examination of the scans, they found a cluster of foreign objects in his stomach.

They immediately performed a laparotomy — a surgical incision into his abdominal cavity — and removed the metal spoon handles one by one over a period of more than two hours.

“After further inspection, we realised the foreign objects were steel spoons. We were shocked to see so many spoons in his stomach,” Dr Rakesh Khurana, the surgeon who performed the operation, told The National.

“There were 63 of them. Never in my career of nearly 35 years have I seen such a case … it is one of the rare medical cases.”

Doctor Khurana said the man broke the head off the spoons and swallowed only the handles.

The patient is being kept in the intensive care unit to recuperate.

The doctors believe that the patient is suffering from a psychological condition, known as pica, which causes a person to crave and compulsively eat non-food items such as coal, metal, clay or dirt.

The patient said he had started eating the metal objects about six months ago.

“No person in their right state of mind would do that. It must be very difficult and painful to swallow the spoons. It is abnormal behaviour,” Dr Khurana said.

Updated: September 29, 2022, 7:08 AM