An Ohio teenager was stuck with a big problem when he accidentally inhaled a homemade blowgun dart and it lodged in his throat.
The boy had made both the guns and the darts after getting information from the Internet, and had been apparently coughing and wheezing for three hours before going to a Columbus, Ohio, emergency room, LiveScience reported.
At first, the boy, 15, did not tell doctors about inhaling the dart, but eventually mentioned it after it showed up on X-rays and doctors pointed it out to him, according to the medical journal Pediatrics.
The patient survived, but turned out to be one of three amateur blow dart enthusiasts who came to the same emergency room in a three-month period with the same problem, according to Dr. Kris Jatana, an otolaryngologist at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
In all three cases, the blow dart boys sucked the metallic, needle-shaped darts into their lungs when attempting to get a big breath to propel them. The homemade devices did not have guards to prevent the darts from going back in the mouth, USA Today reported.
Jatana said all three teens required bronchoscopic procedures under general anesthesia to remove the darts, but said, luckily, none of the inhaled darts punctured large blood vessels or caused serious bleeding.
Still, he fears these three cases are just the tip of the iceberg.
In doing research for his study, Jatana discovered numerous YouTube videos demonstrating how to make homemade darts from wire or needles inserted into a frayed shoelace or pencil erasers, and blow guns from PVC pipe and curtain rods.
“We know that there are other cases that haven’t been widely reported in the literature,” Jatana said, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The American College of Emergency Physicians didn’t show that blowguns were a serious problem, but the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s database revealed at least two cases in the past five years; one concerning a 9-year-old boy in December 2010 who swallowed a pin after inhaling a blow dart and a 14-year-old boy in June 2012 who did the same, NBC News reported.
Jatana is certain there are more cases out there and wants parents, doctors and teens themselves to be aware of the danger posed by blowguns, particularly when so many websites promote them.
“We’re obligated to educate the community on this type of hazard,” he said.