- A two-year-old girl was taken to hospital after suffering stomach pains and falling unconscious.
- The girl swallowed a lollipop stick six months before she fell ill.
- This is the first known case of a swallowed lollipop stick perforating part of a child's small intestine called the ileum.
A two-year-old girl nearly died six months after swallowing a plastic lollipop stick, which perforated her small intestine.
The unnamed girl's parents took their unconscious daughter to a hospital in the Syrian city of Aleppo. Doctors who treated her, and described her case in the Journal of Pediatric Surgery Case Reports, said this was the first known case of a lollipop stick being swallowed and perforating a child's ileum. The ileum is the last part of the small intestine.
The girl was in a critical condition when she arrived at the hospital, the doctors said. She looked pale and had blue lips, was cold to the touch, and was struggling to breathe.
The parents said the girl had swallowed a lollipop stick six months before. Doctors at a different facility who assessed her at the time X-rayed her abdomen, and said the results were normal. They discharged the girl and told her parents to check her stools for the stick, but it never emerged.
A perforated ileum is a rare and life-threatening complication of swallowing a foreign object that must be treated with surgery, according to the authors.
The stick, 2.75 inches long and 0.07 inches wide, was removed, the hole stitched up, and after a few days in intensive care, the girl made a full recovery.
Signs a child needs medical care after swallowing an object
The team advised against a "wait-and-see" approach when a child ingests objects that are sharp, pointed, and or elongated.
The American Academy of Family Physicians warns on its website that children can swallow small objects in an instant, and while objects will generally pass through the gut, "sometimes things get stuck and cause serious problems."
If a child swallows a battery or a sharp item, they should be taken to the hospital immediately. A doctor should be called if a child vomits, gags, drools, stops eating, has stomach pain, or experiences coughing or wheezing after swallowing an object.