Prickly pears are soon in season, but you might want to be extra diligent that you’ve removed all the spines before tucking in. A paper in the Malta Medical Journal last year detailed the case of a 20 year old male who rushed to the emergency room “with the sensation of a foreign object being stuck in the throat and difficulty speaking after the ingestion of 2 prickly pears”.
We’re guessing at this point you already know what happened…
While the man’s parameters were stable and his chest appeared clear, a subsequent CT Scan revealed that the man was suffering from a torn esophagus or food pipe.
The patient was kept at hospital and only given intravenous fluids for 3 days. By the seventh day, he was discharged and a subsequent ENT examination 2 weeks later showed that the tear had healed by itself.
In their subsequent discussion, Dr. Herman K. Borg Xuereb and his student Stefan Malaguti wrote that esophageal tears are relatively rare- their frequency in the United States is around 3 in every 100,000 people – and these are caused mostly by medical instruments during surgical procedures.
What makes this case unique according to them, is the fact that this tear was caused by “an innocuous, edible fruit.”