Science isn't stagnant. New technologies and new sets of eyes on a problem mean we're always going to learn more about concepts we thought he had on lock-down for years. Remember Pluto?
Medical science is no different, and even the most experienced doctors can be caught off guard with what they find inside the human body, something we thought we knew everything about.
Reddit user, u/ravrotinez, wanted to know about the most ridiculous things doctors have seen in a human body when they asked:
Doctors/Medical Examiners/Morticians of Reddit, what is the weirdest anomaly you've ever found on/in a body?
A Memory...A Haunting, Haunting Memory...
A mummified foetus - I was working in Africa and the usually very stoic Congolese surgeons called me in to theatre, gagging - the patient was an elderly woman with a protruding abdominal mass. When they opened it, they found that it was a long, long dead mummified foetus which as a result of an ectopic pregnancy, had somehow managed to both wall off after it died and somehow avoid killing the mother. Her body had encapsulted the alien tissue and over the years, it had slowly eroded her anterior abdominal wall to the point where it finally caused her to have enough symptoms to get something done about it.
It was horrific and the smell was worse.
Happily, though, the patient survived the procedure and just left the surgical team with a .. memory.
Pops Always Said To Grow A Spine
One of our cadavers had two spinal cords, aka split spinal cord malformation.
Edit: just a first year med student here folks. Unfortunately it's against our school's policy for me to even take photographs, yet alone share them. One of our groups during our laminectomy (removing the back of your vertebra to expose spinal cord) lab, once they cut into the dura mater (the tissue that wraps around the spinal cord) noticed a spit cord in the in the thoracolumbar region, side-by-side. Our lead anatomist was very excited to see this and had the whole class come see. Apparently it's not the most incredibly rare thing, but it is the weirdest anomaly I've seen thus far.
Edit 2: So a lot of people are mentioning Spina Bifida. From what I understand in my studies, that would be the result of bones in the spine not forming correctly. This was not what we saw. There were no signs of prior surgery or herniation of the meninges.
Was There Also A Motorcycle?
Weirdest thing was in a woman's intestine- a dead mouse.
Tiny little thing.... obviously never got the chance to ask how the mouse got there as this was post mortem. Definitely unexpected though...
When Your Body Confuses Its Own Organs
She isn't dead, but this week i saw a patient with endometriosis in her lungs.
Somehow, womb-lining cells had travelled to her thorax and colonised on the lung. She previously had symptoms of coughing up blood while menstruating, but because the endometriosis was so severe, was on the pill to stop her periods entirely.
Then she came off it to have a baby, and after the birth, with her hormones all over the place, she developed two pulmonary embolisms (blood clots in the lung), and a few weeks after that, three successive pneumothorax (collapsed lung). The womb cells had tried to shed, and made a hole between the airways and the sac surrounding the lung, letting air escape.
She's deciding now whether to let the surgeons cut out the part of her lung with the endometrial cells, to go back on the pill for life, or to have a full hysterectomy and remove her ovaries. Tough choice at 32.
Up Is Down, Black Is White, Left Is Right
I was a combat medic in the Army.
Not super super uncommon (about 1 in 10,000 people have it), but I had a buddy with situs inversus. All of his major internal organs were reversed (heart on the rights side instead of the left, for example). As soon as he got to the unit, it was the first thing he told me. Wanted to make sure if he got hurt I wasnt curious as to why he had no heart, I guess.
Edit to say: Had to look up the name and how uncommon it is, because it's been a few years since I got out and he's literally the only person I've ever met like that. I was honestly surprised at how common it actually is, I figured it'd be more rare.
That's Not How The Keto Diet Works
My colleague was embalming an autopsied male and found two hairnets, numerous plastic tissue sample slides, a plastic urine container (with another person's name on it) and over twenty seven latex gloves within his abdominal cavity...
Sounds Like A Typical "Good Idea" From A Young Boy
Doctor here, general prac and young, so not many experiences.
I had this kid (8) and his mother come to the ped triage about a cold.
As soon they came in they filled the room with stench, like a wound festering, that humid and rancid smell. Kid had a runny nose, but secretions were comming from a single nostril. Upon examination we found the sinusal cavities filled with cotton.
Apparently the kid had this funny idea of stuffing one nostril with cotton and shoving it up inside with a stick as far as he could. We had to call the specialist to remove a lot of VERY deep cotton that was of course a picnic field for bacteria.
Kid probably isn't going college but he won't be lacking new ideas.
Just In Case You Needed A Reminder:
In my anatomy lab, my groups's cadaver had died from systemic complications of stage 4 lung cancer and when we got to the lungs they were two rock hard, necrotic blackened masses that looked nothing like the other cadaver's pink and spongy lungs.
My anatomy prof took one lung out and wrung it resulting in this putrid black goo flowing out of the lung.
As he was draining the lung, he mentioned...
"This. This is what happens when you smoke"
An Injury That's More Of An Inconvenience
Pretty memorable to me. I'm a doctor was working in OT (anesthesiology)
An emergency came in the afternoon. Apparently the patient is a fisherman and got into a fight with his fisherman friend.
Patient was impaled by a spear gun. The spear entered just lateral to his belly button and came out just above his right hip.
He actually held this 6 ft long spear going through his body and walked into the emergency room by himself. When it was time to put him under he wasn't scared /anxious. He said "just fix me up so I can go find that guy".
Guy came in for an outpatient MRI of his cervical spine. On the form where it asks if he ever had any metal in his body (specifically asks if any injured by a metal object) he selected no. Same with a verbal questionnaire. Also we do a keyword search in the patients hard chart for the term foreign body incase it's documented- nothing came up.
He lays down, and I start taking images while talking to him though the speaker. During one of the image sets- he starts pounding on the inside of the scanner and screaming. Figured he was claustrophobic- so I stop the machine and get him out. Immediately he jumps up and starts talking nonsense and runs into the wall, screaming he needs to get away from the 'ocean'. I call overhead for emergency room staff to come down and security as he's flailing, continues screaming and running into the wall before we restrained him.
The staff rush down, and he's talking a mile a minute and explaining how he is inside of the poster of the beach that covers the entire wall in the room he's in, scared out of his mind and hallucinating. Security restrains him, and he's taken down to get an X-ray of his skull. There was a BB in his frontal lobe. It had just enough ferrous metal left in it to travel a few millimeters in his brain. In the emergency department he kept trying to escape, and was very fast. While unrestrained he got up (somehow convinced the guard he was 'better'). Patient bolted out of his room into the main hallway. A code was called for a lost patient. For over an hour nobody could find him, until a nurse looked into a large storage closet. Poor guy was found in a pool of blood. He crashed into a large mirror that was leaning on the wall, and had severe lacerations of his neck, face and arms. Efforts were made to transfuse him but it was too late. Still haunts me how a simple BB from 40 years earlier could do that. Discovered his brother accidentally shot him with a BB gun when they were kids.
Dude I hope his brother never finds out. I dunno about him, but I'd be so fucking guilt riddled if I found out that my f up from 40 years earlier had gotten my brother killed.
Tiger Stripes Mean "Grrrreat!" Right?
Neurologist here..we don't get as many cool stories as the ER docs. However, when I was a medical student we had a cadaver with a very large and very tiger stripe tattooed penis. This was the only tattoo this man had, and was very unexpected when it came time to genital dissection. Obviously, this was saved by the staff for use on all of our anatomy exams (you walk around the room to different parts/bodies and identify whatever is tagged, and this specimen was always identifiable by the only laughing medical student as they kept rotating around the room).
They say you die twice... Once when you stop breathing and once when someone sees your penis for the last time.
Nail On The Head
ER nurse; man comes in after a car accident, we do a brain scan for safety and find a 3 inch nail imbedded in his brain. Ask man about it, he says he has no idea. Admits he was once shot with a nail gun but HAD NO IDEA A NAIL HAD BEEN LODGED IN HIS HEAD. Had been there for well over 4 years.
You Are What You Eat
Father owns a crematory, we once cremated a man (with no clothes and not in any container) and along with his ashes came a massive belt buckle. I kid you not, we have no idea how it got in him but it was definitely there.
Let's All Say A Prayer For Poor Peter...
I now get to add another one in this thread..... A rabbits foot ( yes, it was a real one) in a 22 year old males rectum. COD was a car accident. I think I've literally seen it all....
That Sound You Hear Is Yourself Fainting Because WOW
I'm an Emergency Trauma Nurse at a busy hospital. Within the last few weeks, I had a 69 (nice) -year-old man come in with a full size screwdriver up his butt, handle first. He informed me that his "girlfriend puts it up there for funsies, but he normally can poop it out." X-ray available if the public demands it. Also, last Halloween, a woman came in with a whole, intact apple in her bum. We politely informed her she was incorrectly bobbing for apples. Finally, I spent over an hour with a middle-aged man who discovered "a big lump in my throat that moves when I swallow." The man stared at me is disbelief as we had a discussion on Adam's Apples.
Emergency Departments are never boring!
A Mass of...What?
Newbie doctor here! This is one of the more interesting cases I've seen so far... 27 year old woman came in to the ER with a complaint of a nonproductive cough, night sweats and unintentional weight loss. I automatically thought TB as its still endemic here despite vaccination and free meds.
So this woman is definitely on the thin side, but what didn't match up was her pot belly. I asked if she was pregnant, she said no her last period was 3 weeks ago, preg test confirmed not pregnant. And she did have exposure to TB, her dad had it before he died recently but apparently completed the 6 month treatment regimen. His death was not tb related.
Did a physical, lungs sounded clear, heart was good, a bit pale so probably anemic secondary to infection, abdomen globular, soft and nontender with no masses felt.
My consultant wanted to get an abdominal ultrasound to find the cause of the abdominal distention in addition to a chest xray. But her sister actually wanted to skip the ultrasound and go straight for a ct scan and are willing to pay for it. Ok, sure!
So she was admitted, chest xray confirmed tb so meds were started. CT scan also done, and the scans showed a gray, well defined homogenous cystic mass in her pelvis. Refer to ob-gyne!
So with gyne on board, they decide to investigate the mass, monitoring her abodominal girth - that fluctuated daily- and weight, and also getting that ultrasound. So yes, definitely a mass, but its NOT coming from her ovaries, bladder or uterus. Got a build up of ascites (fluid) in ther abdomen too.
So time for an abdominocentesis! Cytology, gram stain, and culture and sensitivity done. Cytology comes back with the answer to what the mass is. It's genitourinary tuberculosis. So she got her meds, and needs to have a follow up every couple of weeks for the next 6 months, but should be fine.
I wish there was more done for TB here in the Philippines, people are so blasè about a TB diagnosis, or being exposed. So many people die from this everyday without realising the tb meds are free from the department of health. Its an awful way to die, wasting away, struggling for each breathe, bleeding out into their own lungs followed by death. I can't believe this still happens in this day and age.
Do NOT Google This.
I've just remenbered a horrible story happened when I was a student and practiced in the ENT ( ear, nose and throat) department of a national hospital.
A young girl came to us bacause she vomited a round worm. She told us that she had used a pill of 500mg mebendazole the day before to regularly deworm, after that she had a good night's sleep. But the worst part is that she had found a round worm on her pillow when she had woken up. It hadn't stopped. She had felt something wrong in her throat and immidiately had vomited again - a round worm which had been still alive. She had became panic and had gone to the hospital.
The doctor decided to do a larynx endoscopy, then we found and carried out another one in her larynx. The doctor said that the amount of worms in her intestine had been so much so that drug couldn't work effectively. Some of them was still alive and they moved around to find another suitable enviroment - in this case it was stomatch and mouth. Sometimes they could move out through nose or fundament, sometimes they could move to liver or gallbladder... But rarely it had appreared in larynx or mouth. We introduced her to the parasitology department and I 've never heard about her again.
The worst things with me that was we had rice noodles for lunch in the canteen.
It was 'ascaris lumbricoides' if you want to google.
Not The Hole In One He May Have Wanted
Here's another weird one... 3 golf balls in a mans stomach. His cause of death was lung cancer. Still trying to figure out how he ate golfballs/how long they were in there considering he was on life support for 2 weeks before he died.
Apparently there's a new type of golf ball that rolls into the hole if you get it within 4 inches of the hole. He probably just tried to keep them in his back pocket.
"Oh Yeah, This One Time, I Got Shot."
Young man comes in complaining of headache. I work in radiology.
We ask for history. Nothing to report, he says.
We scan his head. CT shows a bullet rattling loose inside his sphenoid sinus (kind of between the nasal cavity and the brain).
I asked the guy: "Have you ever been shot in the face?"
"Oh, yeah, I guess I forgot to mention that."
Edit: Okay this blew up. To clarify, the guy had been shot in the face a few years earlier, never sought treatment for it. The bullet had somehow missed all the vital structures.