Needles stuck in brain for 29 yrs
From correspondents in Beijing
March 5, 2004
DOCTORS in China have successfully removed three sewing needles embedded in a man’s brain for nearly 29 years, state media reported.
The man, surnamed Guo, and his parents had no idea how the needles got into his head, but doctors who performed the unusual operation said someone likely stuck them through a membranous space in his skull when he was a baby.
“It’s not possible for a needle to penetrate the skull otherwise, because the skull is extremely hard,” Xinhua news agency quoted Zhang Zhiqiang, one of the neurosurgeons at the 999 Hospital for Brain Diseases in southern Guangdong province, as saying.
Guo only found out about the needles only after an X-ray in 1994 for a brain injury. Since then, he has travelled to several cities trying to find doctors who could help him remove them, but no-one dared carry out the surgery.
“They simply told him it was too risky, and he should just ignore them if they were not making him too uncomfortable,” Zhang said.
But Guo was determined to see the back of them.
“I was about to enter college that year and was a top student, but I worried so much about the needles that my grades dropped rapidly, and I ended up attending a junior college, instead of one of the top universities I’d always dreamed of,” he said.
Guo went to the 999 Hospital in February and doctors agreed to operate.
During the two-and-a-half-hour procedure Wednesday, they “fished” the needles out of Guo’s brain using a new “navigation system,” which includes a microscope and a magnet.
“Two of the needles were four centimetres long and the third was three centimetres,” said Zhang.
One needle was stuck in a major blood vessel, which made the operation extremely difficult, Zhang said.
“It could have caused a hemorrhage and even endangered the patient’s life, so we broke the needle in half before taking it out,” he said.
The patient was lucky to escape a potential hemorrhage and infection inside his brain, as well as serious nervous system problems such as epilepsy, the doctors said. He has remained in normal condition since the operation.