Guy Drives to the Hospital With a Branch in His Neck

40-year-old mountain biker is lucky to be alive, doctors say
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 26, 2015 7:34 AM CDT
Guy Drives to the Hospital With a Branch in His Neck
Um, ouch.   (The New England Journal of Medicine)

Keeping calm after, say, getting impaled by a tree branch might just save your life, doctors say. Take the example of a 40-year-old man who took a tumble while mountain biking in New Mexico. When he dusted himself off, he found the left side of his neck had been impaled by, yes, a tree branch. While the first reaction of some might be to yank the thing out, the man left the branch where it was and drove himself 20 miles to a hospital at the University of New Mexico, reports LiveScience. Once there, a CT scan showed the branch had narrowly missing the man's windpipe and the major artery linking his heart and brain. "The neck contains a lot of very important, vital structures," says the man's attending physician. He was "lucky not to damage anything."

Surgeons removed the branch—buried more than half an inch in his neck, though it had stopped in the soft tissue—stitching up the hole left behind, and the mountain biker has since suffered no complications, doctors say. They add the man was smart not to have removed the branch in a panic, which LiveScience notes "could have caused additional injury or increased bleeding." Should you ever find yourself in a similar situation, doctors suggest likewise leaving whatever is impaling you alone and getting to a hospital right away. Apparently this man's bizarre case isn't unique. The Sun reported a cyclist was impaled by a 15-inch branch two years ago while riding his bike. Interestingly, the branch entered his neck in almost the exact same spot as the more recent patient. (At least he didn't get hit by an antelope.)

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