Going to the dentist is a popular fear – usually without due cause - but accidentally swallowing a piece of drill is surely every patient’s worst nightmare.
That’s exactly what happened to a 60-year-old while she was having dental implant surgery in Västerås in Sweden. During the surgery at Västmanland County Hospital, the drill head - known as a burr - came loose from the grip and fell into her mouth. She was pulled into a sitting position but by that time it was too late.
The hospital’s medical chief, Per Weitz told Swedish newspaper The Local: “She tried to spit it out, and was made to cough, but she’d already swallowed.”
After the accident, she was taken to be x-rayed – and it revealed that the three-centimetre long drill head was lodged in her right lung. A bronchoscopy was immediately performed to remove it. The medical chief explained: “A pinky-sized tube was sent into her lung with a small camera and pliers to grab hold of the drill.”
She was able to leave the hospital the day after her bronchoscopy but it has taken her a month to fully recover.
The hospital has introduced new routines to avoid it happening again. “What we’ve done at the clinic is to make sure everyone double checks that the drill is attached properly, and we’ve also introduced a routine of testing the drill in the air. That should be done before every procedure now,” Weitz said.
But even with the new procedures the risk may not be completely eradicated. Weitz admitted: “Unfortunately, drills are going to be dropped every now and then.”