A man who visited an emergency room with chest pain and shortness of breath turned out to have a thin, 4-inch-long piece of cement piercing his heart. As USA Today reports, the problem stemmed from a back surgery the 56-year-old had undergone the previous week. Kyphoplasty involves the injecting of a special type of medical cement into a damaged vertebra to restore its shape, but can be complicated by the leakage of cement in the body.
Complications occur in less than 2% of cases, according to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons. However, cement leakage was detected in 18.4% of patients who underwent percutaneous balloon kyphoplasty in a 2019 meta-analysis of 22 studies. It noted low cement viscosity and a high volume of injected cement were significant risk factors. In this case, cement had leaked from the vertebra into the man's veins, where it hardened before traveling to his heart, per Live Science.
The man was rushed into surgery after scans showed a foreign body in his heart. Doctors Gabe Weininger and John Elefteriades of the Yale University School of Medicine ultimately found the sharp string-like piece of cement piercing the man's heart and right lung, according to a report published Saturday in the New England Journal of Medicine. They were able to remove it and repair damage to the heart's right upper chamber, per Live Science. The man was almost fully recovered within a month, the report adds. (Read more strange stuff stories.)