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11 Weird Things People Have Swallowed

A Pen

A CT scan of a woman's stomach, showing an ingested felt-tip pen.

A CT scan of a woman's stomach, showing an ingested felt-tip pen. (Image credit: BMJ Case Reports 2011; doi:10.1136/bcr.10.2011.5001)

After 25 years of lying in a woman's stomach, a felt-tip pen was still in working order. How did it get into her stomach? When the 76-year-old woman went to a doctor due to weight loss and diarrhea, an investigation with a scope and a computed tomography (CT) scan revealed the item. "She recalled unintentionally swallowing a pen 25 years earlier. While she was interrogating a spot on her tonsil with the pen she slipped, fell and swallowed the pen by mistake," the doctors wrote in 2011 in the journal BMJ Case Reports. "Her husband and general practitioner dismissed her story, and plain abdominal films done at the time were reported as normal." Though her symptoms resolved on their own and there was no stomach damage, the doctors decided to remove the felt-tip pen because of the possibility of future damage to her stomach.

Rachael Rettner
Senior Writer

Rachael has been with Live Science since 2010. She has a master's degree in journalism from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program. She also holds a B.S. in molecular biology and an M.S. in biology from the University of California, San Diego. Her work has appeared in Scienceline, The Washington Post and Scientific American.