Swallowing a non-edible object seems a rather common thing to do, have you ever experienced something like this?

Many people seem to search on the Internet “What can happen if you swallow a piece of plastic fork?”, so this is a rather common concern. 

You shouldn’t worry too much if you swallowed a piece (or a tine) of a plastic fork, because most of the times, it will naturally pass through.

There are not many reported cases of adults visiting the emergency after swallowing a piece of plastic of a fork. Perhaps because most of them, have been advised by their doctors that the material will pass through.
It is interesting however, to observe a series of report from an American hospital showing the number of patients that in year 2010 have visited the premises because of swallowed flatware. The patients are children, aged between 9 months and 4 years, and have all been dismissed without treatment. So chances are that if an adult swallow a piece of flatware, the outcome will be the same.

Some say that the risk of intestine perforation is very low if non-existent because the intestine retracts in case of sharp objects.

Hence, it is not too dangerous to swallow a piece of plastic fork, but as this item is sharp, the risk can never be excluded. If the tine punctuates the intestine or stomach, it can cause peritonitis, which is a life-threatening infection if not cured. Another problem related to plastic items is that they are not always visible in x-rays.

So are we sure that there will not be consequences?

Swallowing a piece of plastic fork is not completely risk-free

Well, even if it is not that risky to swallow a piece of plastic fork, there are things that can go wrong as the experience of Mr Gardner testifies.
Mr Gardner rushed into hospital in 2012, because he vomited blood and had stomach cramps. Doctors feared the worst, until a camera inspection revealed the incredibly unexpected cause of the symptoms.

You won’t believe it, but Mr Gardner has a whole plastic fork sitting in his stomach! He accidentally swallowed the fork over 10 years before and doctors advised him that it would pass through naturally, so he didn’t need to worry.
To extract the fork the patient underwent a 45 minutes operation, which doctor Hanis Shiwani commented  ‘The fork was impacting on the stomach wall, causing an ulcer which was bleeding. I had to remove that part of the stomach and I was glad when it wasn’t cancerous.”

picture of a fork found in man's intestine after he swallowed it

Doctors said that they have never seen before a foreign object lasting in someone’s body for so long, because normally people get ill immediately.

Another unfortunate story is the one of Mr David Edmiston who, in 2010, unintentionally swallowed a piece of plastic fork whilst having lunch at work, the incident brought serious consequences, he had to stay in hospital for a couple of weeks and most of the time was spent in intensive care, the object punctuated his intestine, colon and other organs. He had a very hard time after the unlucky event.

What should you do if you swallow a piece of plastic fork?

We suggest to seek always help from the doctors, go to the A&E even if the chances that a tine might pierce your organs are very slim, go for a check-up for your peace of mind as well. They will probably tell you that the tine will pass through without the need of any treatment.

To avoid that this sort of accident happens you can opt for stronger and more resistant disposable cutlery, at least when you have the option of using your own flatware.


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