Sometimes, radiographers make some unusual discoveries. Well, one of these discoveries was the case of the 51-year-old man after he came to the Tokyo Medical and Dental University after experiencing chronic fatigue and a loss of appetite. Medical personnel then discovered that the patient was living with 8 kilos of metal inside his body… that he had voluntarily ingested. From this unusual finding, an unknown disorder was discovered that has potentially serious consequences. This disorder is known as Pica eating disorder.
The equivalent of £120 found in his stomach
When the patient, who had been suffering from depression for 30 years, was examined after arriving at the medical centre in the Japanese capital, doctors observed that his abdomen was tense and painful. They sent him to the radiographer to find out what was causing this peritoneal discomfort and they found that his thorax and stomach were full of strange, round objects.
The man went in for emergency surgery which revealed that there were 1894 coins inside his stomach. On the plus side, he beat the previous record for the number of coins removed from a body, 600 to be more precise, which were removed from an American in 2008.
The Japanese patient apparently didn’t care about the coinsbefore swallowing them, since 1, 5, 10, 50 and 100 yen coins were all removed from his stomach. This anatomic coin purse, that contained an equivalent of around £120, had nonetheless caused a puncture in his gastric wall. But the man was lucky enough not to contract zinc poisoning, seeing as though zinc is a metal that is generally found in coins. As the Réalités biomédicales article explains:
The majority of coins swallowed by the Japanese patient were 10 yen coins. These are made of 95% copper but only 3% zinc.
A rare and dangerous eating disorder
Doctors quickly realised that they were facing a case of Pica eating disorder. This psychiatric disorder is characterised by a compulsive need to swallow non-nutritional and inedible substances.
‘Nails, keys, coins, needles, electric batteries, matches, small stones’ is the incomplete list of objects that people who suffer from this disorder swallow, that doctor Michel Cymes listed in an RTL show, that was broadcasted in May.
Intoxication, punctures in the mucous membrane and anaemia are just some of the serious physical consequences of this psychosis that now need to be dealt with by specialised therapists.
Two weeks after his surgery, the 51-year-old man who was diagnosed with schizophrenia was admitted into a psychiatric ward.