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Doctor's Clever Plan to Free Boy's Stuck Tongue: a Wine Hack

Anesthesiologist recalled long-ago method to free 7-year-old's tongue from grape juice bottle
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 1, 2019 8:50 AM CDT
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Stock photo. Warn your kids about sticking their tongues in for those last drops.   (Getty Images/Dave_Pot)

(Newser) – A 7-year-old boy too eager to suck down all of his grape juice is lucky Dr. Christoph Eich drinks wine—or at least knows how to open a wine bottle without a corkscrew. NBC News reports on this odd injury out of Germany, a case documented this week in the European Journal of Anaesthesiology. The child had crammed his tongue into a glass bottle to retrieve the final drops of juice and ended up with his tongue stuck. This type of "tongue entrapment," which a EurekAlert release says is a "relatively rare" occurrence that typically happens with young kids, can put a child's breathing at risk if there's too much fluid buildup and restriction of blood flow. In this case, though, the boy's airway was clear, so doctors had time to try different things, including lubricating the area then pulling.

But it wasn't until Eich stepped in that a solution was found. The pediatric anesthesiologist recalled an instance 20 years back in which he needed to open a corked wine bottle but had no corkscrew. The doctor had taken thin medical tubing attached to a syringe, forced the tubing into the bottle, then pumped in air; the cork popped. "The air becomes pressurized and the only thing that can move is the cork," he tells NBC. He successfully modified that technique to release the boy's tongue, which fully healed in two weeks. "We would suggest trying this method before more invasive procedures under general anesthesia are considered," Eich says in the release, noting his team could find only one other case, from three decades ago, in which a similar pressure-relieving process was employed to release a stuck tongue. (If your kid can lick her own eye, though, that can lead to fame.)

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