This afternoon a couple came bustling into my office carrying a well-looking yet irritable child. They promptly produced xrays from the nearby regional hospital and stated that the baby girl had swallowed a coin.
The xrays did indeed show a coin stuck in the esophagus so I escorted the anxious trio to the OR.
Once the mother and child were comfortably settled in the examination room, I spoke with Barbar one of our skilled technicians and Carsten our resident surgeon. After perusing through the xrays, Barbar casually tossed them back onto the table and announced that the cure for this particular problem was a urinary catheter. “A what?” I replied, somewhat incredulously.
When a catheter is placed in the bladder, a small balloon is inflated to hold it in place. Apparently someone figured out that when you place a catheter into the esophagus, just past the swallowed foreign object and inflate the balloon you can simply yank the whole thing back out, coin and all.
Genius...and you were expecting an expensive scope? TIA folks...this is Africa.
Barbar then speculated that she had swallowed 50 franc piece. I wagered that it was a 25 franc coin, although I am sure I lost that bet. The anesthetist promptly interjected that no matter what the value, if he was fishing it out, he got to keep it:-)