Pensioner spent eight days with his false teeth stuck in his throat after surgery

Unfortunately, due to an error during routine surgery, a retired electrician spent more than a week with false teeth lodged down his throat. According to a recent news report in the BMJ(British Medical Journal), the shocking incident was not the first time that dentures have found themselves lodged in patients’ windpipes as a result of general anaesthesia.

In this case, the partial denture comprised a metal plate and three top front teeth. Initially, the seventy-two-year-old man had undergone a relatively routine operation to remove a benign growth from the wall of his abdomen. The procedure took place under general anaesthetic with intubation, as is usual.

Some six days later, however, the unnamed patient was still finding it difficult and painful to swallow. On noticing blood in his mouth, he reported to the A&E department back in his local hospital. There, concerned doctors initially suspected pneumonia – but on further investigation, an X-ray revealed a semi-circular object positioned across his vocal cords.

Emergency Surgery

Unsurprisingly, the foreign body had caused considerable swelling, blistering of the local tissue and a feeling of general malaise. With the clear evidence of the X-ray image to confirm the denture left lodged in his throat during the previous operation, the distressed pensioner then had to undergo an emergency procedure to recover it. Fortunately, after removal of the misplaced prosthesis, the patient recovered his health over the following few days and in due course, doctors discharged him from the unnamed hospital.

Local Protocols

Currently, there are no guidelines at national level for the management of patients’ dentures when under anaesthetic. Some hospitals favour leaving prostheses in situ during bag-mask ventilation and induction of anaesthesia, as the extra support they provide tends to produce a better oronasal seal. However, such incidences ought to figure prominently in each patient’s notes, so that theatre and nursing staff are fully aware. Then, the anaesthetist or nurse should remove such dental prostheses beforeintubating, i.e. inserting the pipe into the patient’s trachea.

Reportedly, the hospital concerned has since taken steps to inform all the members of its surgical teams regarding what happened, along with the need to document procedures properly for every surgical patient.

Support for Surgical Mistakes

If foreign objectsor surgical errorshave affected your well being during or after hospital treatment, a claim for compensation may be possible. Additionally, we offer legal support for patients who have suffered errors in anaesthesia.

For a discussion of your case, as well as advice regarding any injuries and inconvenience suffered, we invite you to contact our expert team today for a free initial consultation. All calls are in confidence.