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#1
Old 07-31-2006, 02:16 AM
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What's The Largest Solid Object You Can Swallow Whole And Still 'Pass'?

Warning: Please do not conduct any experiments upon yourself or upon any other person in order to attempt to answer any of the questions that will follow.


I've noticed that certain objects such as small seeds that I've eaten have passed through my digestive tract just as they had entered, although perhaps not as tasty. I also realize that, at some size, this would be physically impossible. At what point does an object's size become too large to be passed through the human gastrointestinal tract?

In other words, if I were to swallow a sesame seed, a BB, an apple seed, a pumpkin seed, a penny, an apricot pit, a peach pit, a hazelnut, and an avocado pit whole, which of these items could I expect to pass later on? What's the largest solid object on record that has been passed by a human??

Are most people carrying around objects in their stomachs that they swallowed but never expelled?

Thanks.
#2
Old 07-31-2006, 02:32 AM
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Hopefully, the resident SDMB doctor will be along in a bit

In the mean time, I'll chip in. Most of this info is from animal experience:

1. Once you eat something, it will either get digested, come out, or it will get stuck and prevent other things from passing. If there are any cases of people carrying around non-digestable stuff in their gut without realizing it, then they are the rare case indeed. (birds and other animals that need grit are the exception)

2. What sizes are likely to pass depends both on the dimentions and texture of the object. A pair of panties, eaten by a largish dog, could pass fine, even though, when wadded up, they are larger than your avacado pit. Because they can stretch out while being pushed along the GI, and they are fairly squishy, they can get through ok.
Dental floss, however, is a serious matter. As they GI tries to push, the floss can get pulled out, like the panties. But, unlike the panties, the floss is so thin that it often cuts though the moving flesh of the GI, creating a big problem.

That said, I think the average human would have a tough time passing an avacado pit, or much else that size and texture.
#3
Old 07-31-2006, 05:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Surreal
Are most people carrying around objects in their stomachs that they swallowed but never expelled?
I don't know about most people but here is an extreme case featuring a man with a metal fetish.

Quote:
Doctors in southern India have removed 90 metal objects including keys, screwdrivers, spanners and nails from a man's stomach

The coal miner's son was first admitted to the hospital with symptoms of schizophrenia and was later moved to a surgical ward when he complained of pain in the stomach and began to vomit.

A X-ray revealed presence of a big metal object in the stomach but the doctors were later surprised to find as many as 90 articles, reports United News of India.
This story may be of interest to those of us who can never find our car keys.
#4
Old 07-31-2006, 07:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Surreal
What's The Largest Solid Object You Can Swallow Whole And Still 'Pass'?
Surreal, maaaaaybe you new a new hobby.

<PERKY>Building ships in a bottle is nice!</PERKY>

But, try & keep them out of your mouth, m'kay?
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#5
Old 07-31-2006, 08:05 AM
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Another related question: what is the narrowest/least flexible part of the human digestive tract? As we hypothetically swallow larger and larger objects, until something gets stuck, where would it get stuck?
#6
Old 07-31-2006, 08:32 AM
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Supposedly, the esophagus is the most narrow part of the digestive tract.

Cite: http://westonaprice.org/moderndi...on_primer.html
#7
Old 07-31-2006, 08:44 AM
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When it comes to animals, I saw something on Animal Planet (on Animal Cops Detroit, I think) about a dog which died of malnutrition after a corn cob got lodged at the bottom of its stomach, blocking the passage from its stomach to its small intestine.
#8
Old 07-31-2006, 10:52 AM
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What's The Largest Solid Object You Can Swallow Whole And Still 'Pass'?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Surreal
Warning: Please do not conduct any experiments upon yourself or upon any other person in order to attempt to answer any of the questions that will follow.
To ask the question is to issue a challenge to some folks despite the caveat(s).

Even if you could swallow a large item it could result in the need for surgery to clear obstruction of the small intestines.
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#9
Old 07-31-2006, 11:41 AM
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Gastric remote cameras are about the size of a large vitamin pill http://sciencedaily.com/releases...0428171500.htm but I can't find precise dimensions listed.

The info about the metal eater suggests that the stomach won't allow things over a certain size to pass into the gut, and so large items won't necessarily cause obstruction to the gut.
#10
Old 07-31-2006, 11:44 AM
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As I am sure many other parents can undoubtedly corroborate, pennies come out mighty shiney! Marbles come through too, tho I'm not sure how you measure whether they are larger or smaller than pennies.
Checking poopy diapers for passed coins is yet another of the many duties of parenthood that systematically removes any squeamishness you may have previously had about bodily functions...

I seem to recall some of those swallowable cameras are an inch or so long...
http://mayoclinic.org/checkup-20...endoscopy.html
#11
Old 07-31-2006, 03:44 PM
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Why does this remind me of the joke about the monkey who swallowed the cue ball?

In the interest of fighting ignorance, have at it folks, the image is hilarious.

#12
Old 07-31-2006, 04:10 PM
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Am I the only one who thinks of this column:
Quote:
Originally Posted by CA,PM
OK, the spaghetti isn't solid but mushy. So what? You can suck solid things too. Cecil has been . . . well, I was about to say Cecil has been sucking various cylindrical objects, but I recognize that a certain element will find this comical. Let us pause while the lads get it out of their systems. Very well. By process of experiment, we learn that the speed at which something can be sucked depends very little on whether it's solid or spongy--mostly it's a matter of its weight relative to its cross section. I therefore feel entitled to ignore the fluidic aspects of the situation.
#13
Old 07-31-2006, 04:21 PM
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The OP makes me think of the drug balloons people will swallow in smuggling operations. There was a Madeleine Stowe movie which showed some of this ... the name of which I forget. The balloons seemed to be about the size of large marbles (maybe 1" - 1.25" spheroids).
#14
Old 07-31-2006, 04:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bordelond
The OP makes me think of the drug balloons people will swallow in smuggling operations. There was a Madeleine Stowe movie which showed some of this ... the name of which I forget. The balloons seemed to be about the size of large marbles (maybe 1" - 1.25" spheroids).
"Maria Full of Grace" had a scene where she swallows numerous heroin "pellets" as well which were 'passed through'. Each one being about 1.5" long.

I'm in no position to guess at the film's accuracy.
#15
Old 07-31-2006, 04:36 PM
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Sigh. Most of the people who swallow coins, batteries, chicken bones, safety pins and avacado pits are children -- most of the rest have psychiatric issues or are prisoners or drug smugglers trying to conceal something. The odd moop forgets to take the tinfoil off the suppository before eating it. Medical information on swallowed foreign bodies can be found here: http://emedicine.com/ped/topic2777.htm

Unnatural foreign objects (UFOs) tend to stick in the esophagus, mostly (60%) at the level of the cricopharyngeus muscle. If it makes it to the stomach, 90%+ of foreign bodies will pass through the gut and the doctor usually just takes serial X-rays to make sure things are moving. Sometimes in the case of battery ingestion, things are pushed along by irrigating the bowel with lots of fluid. If things are not moving along, an operation may be required. It would be unusual for things to stay in the stomach if they can get there.

UFOs are dangerous. I would in no way encourage record setting attempts -- since the problem is anatomical with a bit of luck regarding angles of attack and peristalsis, presumably most people would die if trying to break the record. I would guess one of the people who ate a car. Kids have smaller food pipes than adults; people canget into trouble with a single microscopic fish bone. Try doing an internet search for bezoars to get an ideal of large objects that almost made it.

Dr_Pap, MD
#16
Old 07-31-2006, 05:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr_Paprika
The odd moop forgets to take the tinfoil off the suppository before eating it.
How embarrassing is that? Forgetting to remove tinfoil along with the wrong point of entry... I guess you do need to draw some people a diagram.
#17
Old 08-01-2006, 08:17 AM
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When I was 5, I was able to pass a swallowed nickel (which is bigger than a penny of course).

I also swallowed (and passed) a plastic bullet from a Johnny Eagle pistol (that's the bullet mind you, not the shell).
#18
Old 08-01-2006, 02:37 PM
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Is anyone else concerned that competitive pooping could turn into a sport much like competitive eating?



::d&r::
#19
Old 08-01-2006, 08:29 PM
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This is an interesting question.

I spend much of my time at work introducing barium into various orifices, and I've never actually attempted to measure the 'strictures' that would impede an object in its journey through someone's guts.

I believe Dr_Paprika is correct: If it makes it into your stomach AND it can make the turns necessary to transit through the bowel loops, then you should be able to pass it.

Just for fun, I'm going to ask the residents what the average diameters of the various "choke points" are.
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