Man Needs Surgery After Swallowing Over Two Pounds of Nails, Screws and Knives

Doctors in Lithuania were recently tasked with removing a massive quantity of metal objects from a man's stomach. Consisting of screws, nails, and knives, the items weighed about one kilogram in total, or over two pounds. The largest single piece measured 10 cm in length, or about four inches.

Needless to say, swallowing foreign metal objects is not advised: doing so can block or cause injury to the esophagus and digestive system, resulting in abdominal pain and other damage. Additionally, items like coins or nails could carry harmful pathogens or toxic substances.

However, for some, it's not always as simple as refraining from these behaviors. Pica is a disorder in which someone eats items generally not considered to be food and which do not have nutritional value—including things like dirt, chalk, bones, paint, clay, or metal, noted Forbes in a 2017 article on the disorder.

Pica can have a range of causes, stress being one major contributor. Other common causes of pica include mental health conditions (such as obsessive compulsive disorder), pregnancy cravings, and malnutrition.

In this particular case, the unnamed man reportedly took up eating metal objects for a month in the wake of quitting alcohol, noted BBC News.

He was brought to Klaipeda University Hospital near Lithuania's Baltic Coast after suffering from severe pain in his abdomen. An X-ray revealed to doctors that his stomach was filled with metallic objects, reported the Guardian.

"During the three-hour operation with X-ray control, all foreign bodies, even the smallest ones, in the patient's stomach were removed," said surgeon Sarunas Dailidenas. Speaking to the BBC, he added that it was a "unique case."

A Lithuanian media outlet published a photo of the metal pieces that had been excavated from the man's stomach: the picture shows several handfuls worth of nails, screws, and other pointy objects piled in a tray, along with what appear to be bloodstains and medical tools in the background.

"We've never seen anything like it," said Algirdas Slepavicius, head surgeon at Klaipeda Hospital, per the Guardian.

The man is said to have been in stable condition following the surgery.

The man in Lithuania is not the only reported case of someone sustaining health problems after eating large quantities of metal. In 2017, the Times of India reported that a man in the city of Bhopal required surgery after eating 263 coins, 150 iron nails, and a quilting needle, among other items. The 32-year-old had reportedly started eating metal in response to suffering from depression and was brought to the hospital after complaining of severe abdominal pain to his family.

Construction Bolts
A pile of metal construction bolts in Beijing, China. McMillan/Construction Photography/Avalon/Getty Images