‘Cancer patient’ finds lump was toy traffic cone inhaled in 1977

Medics find long-lost Playmobil plastic traffic cone inside lung of 47-year-old man who had suffered from persistent cough

A toy traffic cone has been found in the lung of a man 40 years after he inhaled it.

It was originally thought that the unnamed 47-year-old man from Preston might have cancer.

He was referred to a respiratory clinic after complaining of coughing up yellow mucus and feeling unwell for over a year.

Medics initially thought the patient, who had also recently suffered pneumonia and had been a long-term smoker, had a tumour after an x-ray showed a mass in a lung.

However during a bronchoscopy, which was carried out to help aid diagnosis, they realised it was a long-lost Playmobil traffic cone the patient had received on his seventh birthday.

The miniature plastic cone, about 1cm in length, was removed with biopsy forceps.

Doctors writing in BMJ Case Reports said: Following the procedure, the patient reported that he regularly played with and even swallowed pieces of Playmobil during his childhood.

Playmobil figures. The man reported that he played with and even swallowed pieces of Playmobil during his childhood. Photograph: Graham Turner for the Guardian

He recalled being given this Playmobil set for his seventh birthday and believes he aspirated the toy traffic cone soon after.

While it is a common occurrence for children to accidentally inhale small objects, a case in which the onset of symptoms occurs so long after initial aspiration is unheard of.

The doctors said that to their knowledge, it was the first reported case of a tracheobronchial foreign body that was overlooked for 40 years.

This may be because aspiration occurred at such a young age that the patients airway was able to remodel and adapt to the presence of this foreign body, the report said.

They added that during childhood, the object may have been absorbed into the lining of the lung, which developed around it.

Four months after the removal of the tiny traffic cone, the patients cough had nearly cleared and his other symptoms had markedly improved.

The medics said: On a positive note, his symptoms improved markedly and he finally found his long-lost Playmobil traffic cone in the very last place he would look.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/sep/26/man-who-thought-he-had-lung-cancer-finds-lump-was-a-toy-traffic-cone

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