What would happen if you swallowed a toothpick?

In this short study, we will answer the question, “what will happen if you swallow a toothpick?” It will also examine the implications, as well as two real-world case studies.

What would happen if you swallowed a toothpick?

If you swallow a toothpick, it leads to tearing of your esophagus and can get stuck inside any part of your body. Before you bite into the sandwich, take a closer look at the sandwich. In a given year, toothpicks cause more deaths and injuries than plane crashes or shark attacks combined.

Several recent case reports published in the New England Journal of Medicine, including one of a man who came perilously near to death after swallowing a single toothpick, have highlighted the potential danger presented by a single toothpick. It was hidden in a sandwich, and neither he nor his doctors were aware that he had consumed it. As his illness progressed, scan after scan showed nothing; these minute wooden objects are imperceptible to modern imaging technology.

Death caused by a toothpick is very uncommon; the vast majority of toothpick injuries do not end in death. It goes without saying that if someone swallows a toothpick, they run the danger of choking.

However, it can pass unnoticed via the digestive tract. When it comes to wooden or plastic objects, stomach acid does not destroy them in the same manner that it degrades food. The toothpick may get stuck in the intestines and pierce the bowels or an artery, leading to infection, bleeding, sepsis, and even death if it is not removed immediately.

The successful diagnosis and treatment of wooden toothpicks that have been ingested


When ingested, foreign entities are often excreted in feces, with the bulk of them being excreted in the urine. If sharp bodies are consumed without being recognized, intestinal perforation and misdiagnosis are probable outcomes. There have been two cases of toothpick ingestion that have been properly diagnosed.

The patient’s main concerns are as follows

The authors report on two cases of middle-aged people who had stomach pain. They were completely ignorant of the fact that they had a history of swallowing unusual corpses, and they offered no evidence to support this claim.


The physical examination and blood tests showed no major issues. There was an anomaly in the images obtained using computed tomography (CT) and ultrasonography (US). Then, during the laparotomy, it was found that a toothpick had been inserted through the intestinal wall and into the surrounding viscera.


When patients with abdominal pain are admitted, it is important to utilize proper examination techniques and careful monitoring to identify easily missed lesions that may otherwise go undetected. The use of CT scans may be beneficial in the diagnosis of swallowed foreign substances. When a site is unclear, the use of ultrasound may be used to confirm the diagnosis and location.

Report on a case

This is published with the express informed consent of both patients who participated in the study.

Case 1

Several months after eating a late-night snack, a 33-year-old man presented to our facility complaining of somewhat recurrent transferable stomach pain. His vital signs were within normal ranges. He was well. No abnormalities were seen on an abdomen x-ray taken before admission. The patient was sent to the operating room, where it was discovered that a wooden toothpick had perforated the intestinal wall. The toothpick was removed. Using a snare, the toothpick was successfully removed with no complications or injuries. After the operation, the patient was able to recuperate without incident. His reaction when he was informed of this surprising finding during his follow-up was to recall maybe unintentionally drinking a toothpick and swallowing it.

Case 2

The patient was a middle-aged woman who had been suffering from chronic colic in her left upper abdomen for four days without getting radiation. Her left epigastrium was sensitive, but she did not have any rebound pain or other signs of peritonitis at the time of the exam. Every one of her vital markers was within normal ranges. The patient was sent to the hospital for emergency surgery. In the course of the surgical probe, we found a bamboo toothpick that had been embedded in the splenic flexure of the transverse colon wall and had penetrated the pancreatic tail, as well as evidence of adhesion of the surrounding tissue. The toothpick is about 6 centimeters in length. The recovery after surgery was quite straightforward.


In this short study, we answered the question, “what will happen if you swallowed a toothpick?” It also examined the implications, as well as two real-world case studies.



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