Most foreign objects found in the anus have been put there voluntarily, as a general rule. Not so in one recent medical case, as outlined in BMJ Case Reports.
A 67-year-old man complained to doctors that he had been experiencing pain in his right buttock and thigh for two months. Apart from the unusual pain, he had no other symptoms such as rectal bleeding, bladder/anus dysfunction, nor any other relevant medical history.
After an MRI scan, his team diagnosed him with spinal stenosis, in which the spaces in the spine narrow, which can put pressure on your nerves and cause lower back pain or numbness in the limbs.
He was given anti‐inflammatory drugs, with a plan to be treated with surgery should his condition not improve within a month. His condition worsened over the next month, and he returned to hospital for surgery.
Again, the patient seemed healthy except for the pain and discomfort around his buttocks and thigh. This time, when they performed a CT scan ahead of surgery, they found the actual culprit: A toothpick in his rectum.
"Rectal perforation because of a foreign body was suspected; therefore, the scheduled surgery was cancelled, and the patient was referred to the department of gastroenterological surgery at another hospital," the team wrote in their report.
Unfortunately, before that surgery consultation could take place his condition worsened, and he had to be rushed for an emergency rectal resection and colostomy, where the toothpick was taken out of his rectum.
The toothpick was now so soft because of the liquid it had absorbed that it was easily broken on removal. However, while it was in there it had penetrated the rectal wall and buried its tip into the tissue, causing his pains.
The pain quickly went away upon removal, and two years after the initial presentation he remains healthy.
"When the preoperative explanation began, I was considerably surprised when the doctor explained about the toothpick," the man told his doctors in the case report. "After hearing the explanation to the end, I could not immediately understand it because I had no idea how the toothpick had entered into my body."
However, the doctors soon found an explanation, noting that "a follow-up interview with the patient indicated that he had a habit of taking naps with a toothpick in his mouth".