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Saturday, 14 July, 2001, 06:57 GMT 07:57 UK
How not to use a toothbrush
Not the best way to treat piles
A 69-year-old man who tried to relieve a painful bout of haemorrhoids with a toothbrush was forced to have the offending item surgically removed after it was lost "where the sun does not shine".

The man - whose problems could not be eased by more conventional methods provided by modern medication - was taken to his local accident and emergency department after his GP was unable to locate the toothbrush.

It is not uncommon to have people present to A&E with foreign bodies inserted into their rectums

Dr John Heyworth
X-rays eventually revealed that the toothbrush had become stuck in the man's pelvis and it was recovered using biopsy forceps.

The case is featured in an article entitled "Don't forget your toothbrush" published in the British Dental Journal.

It appears to be the first and only time doctors have recorded a toothbrush being used in this way.

But accident and emergency departments have reported similar incidents with other dental instruments, including toothbrush holders, toothbrush packages and toothpicks.

The report warns that such unconventional use can lead to serious injuries, such as a perforated bowel.

Accident doctor

Dr John Heyworth, president of the British Association for A&E Medicine, told BBC News Online: "It is not uncommon to have people present to A&E with foreign bodies inserted into their rectums.

"A variety of reasons are given. Some say it was accidential, but the force required does not always indicate that this is so.

"In some instances, the incidents appear to be rather more recreational than accidental in nature."

Dr Heyworth said inserting foreign bodies into the rectum was a "very dangerous" thing to do.

"These things can get lodged within the rectum, or they can perforate it and cause serious problems inside the pelvis, or they can damage the sphincters, leading to leakage or incontinence," he said.

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Drink linked to hospital visits
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