An unusual foreign body ingestion in a schizophrenic patient: case report

Int J Psychiatry Med. 2005;35(3):313-8. doi: 10.2190/7AE8-3AV0-W3UA-TKV4.


The topic of foreign body ingestion has received extensive coverage in the areas of surgery, emergency medicine, and pediatrics. A subset of this topic, the intentional ingestion of foreign bodies, however, is much less common, and requires special evaluation and management. Here, we report a case of ingestion of a rolled, metal tuna can lid in a male prison inmate previously diagnosed with depression and paranoid schizophrenia. Following evaluation by the surgical team, the foreign body was removed by laparotomy and the patient was discharged back to the prison without complication. In many cases, ingestions of this type involve a command hallucination ordering the patient to swallow the foreign body. Interestingly, the patient in the present case reported auditory hallucinations commanding him not to swallow the can lid. On further investigation, we found that patient had a proclivity toward this swallowing behavior even prior to his incarceration. Early identification of inmates with this proclivity has important implications for treatment and prevention.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / complications
  • Foreign Bodies / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Laparotomy / methods
  • Male
  • Pica / complications*
  • Schizophrenia, Paranoid / complications*