After playing the trumpet for some time, an 11-year-old boy tried the trombone. But after practising for about an hour on one occasion, he complained of a sore throat, which became increasingly painful. He was taken to hospital, suffering from a swelling that turned out to be a large abcess; he recovered in a couple of weeks.

Doctors who treated him in Halifax, Canada, write in the New England Journal of Medicine that it is well known that wind instruments can damage the tissue in the neck and voice box. Double-reed ones are thought to need the highest air/mouth pressures, and those who play such instruments are most likely to injure themselves.

This child seems to have been particularly unlucky. The doctors believe that while he was practising, tiny perforations developed in the back of his throat just large enough for bacteria to enter the tissue. His parents are trying to persaude him to take up percussion instruments.