Prisoner Has Had Two Phones Stuck in His Stomach Since March

A man in prison in India was discovered to have four cell phones lodged inside his stomach, having swallowed them in March.

According to the Hindustan Times, Raman Saini, a 28-year-old inmate at Tihar jail in Delhi, was investigated by the prison guards due to the fact that the metal detectors kept going off when he was scanned, but they couldn't find any metal on him.

Eventually Saini revealed that he had swallowed four miniature mobile phones in March 2022 in an attempt to smuggle them into the prison, but he had then not been able to get them out in either direction.

phone and guts
File photos of a cell phone (left) and the stomach and intestines (right). A man in India swallowed four mobile phones 7 months ago, two of which remain inside his stomach. iStock / Getty Images Plus

"This particular prisoner's check-up showed he was habitually swallowing larger objects such as cell phones. If a person accidentally swallows a cell phone, it will be difficult for him to spew it out because the food pipe will not allow him to vomit an article as large as a cell phone. The walls of the lower esophagus or the food pipe, in cases like his, become lax because of the person often forcefully ingesting and vomiting large objects," Dr Ashok Dalal, the gastroenterologist handling Saini's case at GB Pant hospital, told the Hindustan Times.

"In Saini's case, we conducted an endoscopy and removed the two phones with ease."

Two of the four mobile phones, each measuring 0.6 inches in diameter, were removed from Saini's stomach via non-invasive endoscopies, which involves using long, thin, flexible tubes inserted via the mouth to observe the gut and perform procedures without surgery. However, the remaining two will require surgery to remove, as they have become stuck in Saini's pylorus.

The pylorus is the sphincter separating the stomach and the duodenum, which is the first section of the small intestine. It serves as a valve between the sections of the gut, regulating the flow of food into the intestines.

"In Raman's case, two phones had entered the stomach which we took out endoscopically. However, two others were stuck in his pylorus which cannot be taken out through an endoscopy procedure. We have referred him for an open surgery," one of Saini's doctors told the Hindustan Times.

The doctors in Delhi were concerned that the mobile phones would eventually begin to corrode inside Saini's body, which could potentially be very damaging to his health, especially if the batteries were exposed. Batteries often contain metals like mercury, lithium, zinc and nickel, which can damage the gut and poison the patient.

"There is a substantial risk of harm as the phone is eroded by the acidic stomach environment, particularly when the phone contains a battery," Deborah McNamara, a colorectal surgeon at Beaumont Hospital in Dublin, Ireland, told Newsweek. "There is also a risk that the phone or its contents would cause a perforation through the wall of the stomach or that it would become trapped in the pylorus (the narrow exit from the stomach) and cause an obstruction or hemorrhage."

Saini, however, doesn't appear to be that desperate to have them removed.

"After advice from doctors, his date for a CT scan was fixed at DDU hospital but he (Saini) refused to undergo the scan," a prison spokesperson told the Hindustan Times. "We have counseled him and will again get a new date for the scan. His condition is reported to be fine. He is not in pain, so he is not cooperating. We are regularly monitoring his health and counseling him."

However, this might not be a problem so long as the mobile phones don't corrode or block the GI tract.

"Since the objects are smooth, if left to work themselves out through the rest of the GI tract they are more likely to obstruct than perforate," David Reed Flum, a professor of surgery at the University of Washington School of Medicine, told Newsweek. "Surgery would then be to relieve the obstruction. If they were not causing other symptoms, I think I would leave the objects alone."

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Update 11/15/22, 11:23 a.m. ET: This article was updated with comment from Deborah McNamara.