She Had a Wrong Diagnosis for 6 Years, Thanks to This

After 6 years of pain, doctors find ketchup packet perforating patient's intestine
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 3, 2018 8:00 AM CST
Her Crohn's Disease Turned Out to Be Something Stranger
Beware ketchup packets.   (Getty/DonNichols)

For six years, a woman suffered from regular bouts of sharp abdominal pains, and doctors assumed she had the bowel disorder known as Crohn's disease. Because the 41-year-old wasn't responding to the usual treatments, they resorted to surgery—and discovered the true and bizarre cause of her discomfort. Small pieces of a Heinz foil ketchup packet were perforating her small intestine, reports HuffPost. Doctors removed the two foil pieces (the packet was no longer intact but the fragments did bear part of the word "Heinz"), which led to a "complete resolution of symptoms," doctors report in a case study in the British Medical Journal.

Not surprisingly, the doctors say this is the first known case of ingested packaging being mistaken for Crohn's, reports the Press Association. And they draw a lesson: "It is important to consider alternative surgical diagnoses in patients with presumed Crohn's disease unresponsive to standard treatment," they write. The woman has no memory of ingesting such a packet, but five months after surgery she remained symptom-free, making doctors far surer of this diagnosis than the earlier one. (For another woman, dental wire was a surprise culprit.)

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