Doctors in India are warning about a peculiar hazard. In a new case study this week, they detail having to remove a can of aerosol spray deodorant from a patient’s rectum. It’s an injury made even more potentially dangerous due to the risk of fire or explosion should the offending object be removed “using cautery or any energy device,” they write.
Household objects getting stuck inside people’s butts is nothing new. This behavior can be the result of mental illness, curiosity among people (often kids) who just didn’t know better, or sexual play gone wrong.
But according to the authors of this new paper, published Monday in BMJ Case Reports, finding a “deodorant aerosol spray can” inside a patient’s rectum is especially rare. The discovery was apparently enough to compel them to issue a warning to others about the possible risks that could come with this particular kind of rectal object.
For one, our bodies contain gases that can ignite with the right spark during surgery, and accidents in the operating room have occasionally happened as a result. But aerosol cans contain a potent mix of pressurized flammable chemicals, adding to the real risk of fire or explosion should the can inadvertently be punctured or deployed during removal, “especially during any surgical procedures to remove the foreign body using cautery or any energy devices,” the authors wrote in the abstract.
According to the paper, it’s not clear just why this can ended up inside the person’s body. The 21-year-old patient arrived at an emergency room suffering from abdominal pain and told doctors that the can was inserted in his rectum a day earlier by “two unknown people” while he was under the influence of alcohol. But he couldn’t provide any other details.
Because of the risks involved, the doctors opted to put the man under general anesthesia before attempting to remove the can. Thankfully, the procedure didn’t require any incisions, and simple abdominal pressure was enough to get the object (a can of Axe spray) out, without any complications. Afterward, the man was given psychological evaluation and counseling, and he was reported to be doing well at his last follow-up.
The authors wrote that “deodorant aerosol spray can in the rectum has not been reported previously.” Yet they seem to have missed one such case report in 2010 from doctors in Saudi Arabia, in which a deodorant spray can was inserted in the rectum as “a result of erotic activity in a 23-years-old single male.” But the authors are right to warn others about the risks of operating under these conditions. Last year, according to a national database of injuries recorded at ERs in the U.S., at least one person inserted a deodorant spray can into their own rectum, apparently to help with their constipation, while another person inserted some kind of “aerosol container.”
So, yeah. On the long list of things that shouldn’t be up there, cans of anything flammable have got to rank pretty high.
This article has been updated with additional details from the case report.