Reports of a Massachusetts man with a pea sprouting in his lung didn’t faze Ali Musani, an interventional pulmonologist at National Jewish Health in Denver. He has found surprising things in people’s lungs — thumbtacks, batteries, beans, even a two-decade-old fishbone.
In the case of the pea, it came to light when Ron Sveden, 75, arrived at Cape Cod Hospital with a collapsed left lung and pneumonia. Biopsies ruled out lung cancer. That’s when Jeff Spillane, a critical-care surgeon, ran a bronchoscope down Sveden’s airway and discovered the sprout. Sveden apparently had inhaled a pea, which then sprouted in the moist, warm environment. Once removed, Sveden quickly recovered.
“You’d be amazed what you find,” Musani says. One of his more memorable removals was a bellybutton ring. Musani met the young woman going into the operating room. She had been coughing and had some pain in her lung for a few days, she told him. He put her under anesthesia, inserted a rigid tube down her throat, then used a flexible grabber to go down and pull out the ring, which had begun to break up into smaller pieces.
Exactly how and when she inhaled it remains a mystery.
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