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Last Updated: Monday, 6 August 2007, 17:40 GMT 18:40 UK
Pencil removed from German's head
A computer tomography image of the pencil in Mrs Wegner's brain
The pencil went past Mrs Wegner's right nostril and into her brain
A woman in Germany who has spent 55 years with part of a pencil inside her head has finally had it removed.

Margret Wegner fell over carrying the pencil when she was four. It punctured her cheek and part of it went into her brain, above the right eye.

The 59-year-old has suffered headaches and nosebleeds for most of her life.

Surgeons in Berlin were able to remove most of the pencil in a two-hour operation, but a 2cm section was so embedded it was impossible to remove.

Professor Hans Behrbohm, a specialist in endoscopic sinus surgery at the Berlin-Weissensee clinic, carried out the operation and said Mrs Wegner was now mobile and not experiencing any pain.

"The central part of the foreign body was encapsulated in soft tissue and was not causing the patient any harm, so it was safe to leave it," he told the BBC News website.

"This was a difficult area to operate on but modern medical techniques meant it was a calculated danger.

"She no longer has a headache and will be able to smell again. Her olfactory senses had been blocked by polyps."

The pencil measured 8cm (3.1 inches) long, and had narrowly missed damaging an optical nerve. At the time of the accident doctors said it would be too dangerous to operate because it was so close to the brain.

Dr Behrbohm said he was able to carry out the procedure using a 3D reconstruction of Mrs Wegner's interior skull, and an endoscopic surgical system which allowed him to open the frontal sinus, which had suffered serious inflammation.

Mrs Wegner's husband, Ulli Wegner, a boxing coach, praised his wife's bravery and said she is making a good recovery.

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