Assaults and freak accidents involving sharp objects have yielded some pretty shocking X-rays over the years. But as dramatic as these images look, some victims have, seemingly miraculously, survived their horrific injuries and even gone on to make full recoveries. Still, try being a nurse and attempting to stay cool when you’re looking at an X-ray of a skull embedded with a rusty four-inch knife.
Sometimes, removing such an object can lead to significant damage. And even if the object is safely removed, either backwards or forwards following the trajectory along which it entered the body, there’s still the risk of infection. On top of this, nursing intervention may also be required to assist traumatized patients’ psychological reactions to their injuries, as well as those of their family or friends.
Here’s a look at 10 of the most shocking X-rays of sharp objects embedded in people’s bodies. Be warned, though: this is not a list for the squeamish.
10. Ten-inch Metal Rod
When 30-year-old Bhuvaneswar Kumar fell from his motorbike in 2010, he was doubly unlucky. Why? Because he landed face-first on a metal rod protruding from the ground. A passerby managed to separate the rod from the road, but 10 inches of the metal object remained lodged in Kumar’s head – while he remained conscious and breathing.
Kumar was almost a victim of geography, as the nurses and doctors at the nearest medical center lacked the resources to deal with his injury. And, after being rejected by two hospitals, Kumar had to make a 124-mile trip to New Delhi to receive treatment.
Once there, Kumar underwent a 12-hour operation to remove the rod. Incredibly, even though it had been lodged in his head for 11 hours, surgeons were able to prevent paralysis, and Kumar was able to walk and talk afterwards.
9. Eighteen-inch Drill Bit
Falling off a ladder on a construction site sounds pretty dangerous, but Californian Rex Hunt was particularly unlucky. In 2003, he fell onto an 18-inch drill bit. Hunt recalls feeling his face and finding that the drill bit had entered his eye and exited the back of his head. At this point, the shock hit him.
It took a four-hour long operation to remove the drill by unscrewing it. And while Hunt’s friends and family now call him “miracle man,” his relatives still remember the time nurses had to prepare them to see him in the emergency room for the first time. Ultimately, Hunt lost his eyesight in one eye in the accident, but remarkably the 1.5-inch diameter drill bit had pushed his brain aside rather than piercing it, saving Hunt from paralysis or death.
8. Sixteen-inch Arrow
In 2008, Liu Cheong, an 11-year-old Chinese schoolboy, was practicing his archery with 13-year-old female teammate Yan Shin when Shin accidentally shot Cheong in the head. The arrow-tip plunged over four inches into Cheong’s head but somehow missed his brain.
During treatment, the 16-inch arrow had to be trimmed so that Cheong could fit into the CT scanner. But, after four hours of surgery, doctors were able to remove the full shaft of the arrow while avoiding any damage to his brain or optic nerves. Miraculously, the boy survived. Meanwhile, Shin was treated for shock.
7. Three-foot Fishing Spear
In June 2012, 16-year-old Florida resident Yasser Lopez was on a fishing trip when a friend accidentally shot him with a three-foot fishing spear while loading the speargun. Upon Lopez’s admission to hospital, the injuries looked severe. The spear had hit him just above his right eye, passed through his skull and brain, and exited the back of his head.
However, Lopez was awake upon admission and able to communicate with nurses and doctors, which allowed them to neurologically assess the teenager. Also, although the spear had passed completely though his head, it had only penetrated the right side of his brain, bypassing both the cognition and speech centers of his brain’s left hemisphere and the vital structures and blood vessels in between. While a long road of rehabilitation awaits Yasser, doctors believe that a 90% recovery is possible.
6. Six 3½-inch Nails
Los Angeles construction worker Isidro Mejia had one hell of a bad day at work on April 19, 2004. The ill-fated 39-year-old fell off a roof and landed on a loaded, high-powered nail gun, inadvertently firing six nails into his head.
Mejia was unable to remember much about the accident, and doctors didn’t even think he was going to survive. But, miraculously, Mejia made a full recovery.
X-rays revealed that every one of the six 3½-inch nails had missed Mejia’s brain stem and spinal cord, saving him from paralysis or death. Five of the six nails were removed on the day, but doctors had to wait for the swelling to subside before removing the sixth nail embedded in Mejia’s face.
5. Pruning Shears
In a freak accident, 86-year-old gardener Leroy Luetscher fell face-first onto a pair of pruning shears outside his Phoenix, AZ home in July 2012. And while medical staff were no doubt relieved to discover that Luetscher had not fallen on the garden tool’s blades, an X-ray revealed the true extent of the damage: the handle had passed through the man’s eye socket, penetrating all the way down to his neck, where it rested on his carotid artery.
During surgery, doctors made incisions beneath Luetscher’s right upper lip and in his sinus wall and loosened the handle of the shears with their fingers. Unbelievably, they were able to both prevent further injury and save Luetscher’s eye. Four weeks later, he was only suffering minor effects from the accident.
4. Eight-inch Surgical Scissors
In this next incident, the foreign body in question was left there by medical professionals – and for three years. Doctors dismissed the complaints of Veronika Cruz, even though repeatedly expressed her concern that something didn’t feel right. But when Cruz finally was X-rayed, it revealed there was a pair of eight-inch surgical scissors in her stomach.
Three years after a routine operation to remove Cruz’s ovaries, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, the 35-year-old was still in severe pain. It was only when she collapsed that she was X-rayed and the cause of the problem was found. Unfortunately, the scissors had caused damage, and Cruz required further treatment, prompting a hospital investigation, say reports from 2011.
3. Twenty-inch Sword
In July 2011, Hanoi University student Bui Ngoc Tuan was traveling through Dong Hoi City in central Vietnam with 10 other people. Towards the end of their journey, the group had an argument with their taxi driver over the fare. Later, the taxi driver returned with an armed group of men and attacked Tuan and his friends.
Most of the passengers escaped lightly, but Tuan wasn’t so lucky. One of the attackers stabbed a half-meter (20-inch) long sword into his left eye socket. Tuan was rushed to hospital, where medical staff immediately recognized the seriousness of the injury and transferred him to Hue Central Hospital, a medical center better equipped to deal with the complexities of the impalement.
The sword blade – which was embedded four inches deep in Tuan’s left orbit – was removed during an hour-long operation. Remarkably, Tuan sustained no lasting damage to either his left eye or his brain.
2. Three-inch Deep Scissor Wound
Four-year-old Chinese boy Xiao Yu was helping his parents decorate their front door for spring festival in 2010 when he fell onto the scissors he was holding. You can only imagine the horror his parents must have felt when they saw that the scissors had pierced through their young son’s face.
After a ten-hour wait, Yu was finally admitted to Xiehe Hospital in Beijing, where X-rays revealed that the scissors had penetrated just under three inches into his face. Medical staff were concerned about the position of the scissors: although the blades had narrowly missed the boy’s eye and nose, they were pointing at a dangerous angle.
Doctors took a group decision to remove the scissors surgically. Fortunately, the three-hour operation was a success. And when the swelling had receded eight days later, medical staff found that the child had suffered no infection or nerve damage from the injury.
1. Four-inch Rusted Knife
Four years prior to this X-ray from 2011, Chinese man Li Fuyan was stabbed in the jaw during a robbery. Later, he developed breathing difficulties, inexplicable bad breath, and chronic headaches. When Fuyan sought medical attention, doctors were surprised to find a four-inch blade lodged in his head.
Medical staff searched for scars inside Fuyan’s mouth but were puzzled as to how the blade could have ended up there. Talking to the victim, nurses and doctors realized that it had been left there by his attacker.
As astonishing as this is, it was the condition of the knife that posed the challenge for the medical team. Sitting behind Fuyan’s throat and having missed his carotid artery, the blade was corroded and covered with rust. It was also in a delicate position, and there was a chance it could shatter. However, working cautiously, surgeons successfully removed the implement in one piece.