Indian doctors remove embedded bullet from Nigerian man

July 17th, 2011 - 11:01 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 17 (IANS) For around 10 years an injury mark on his thigh reminded Morufu Shuaibu of the gruesome memories of a riot in his country. The pain revisited the 51-year-old Nigerian, who began observing severe pus discharge from the wound.

Much to the horror of his family, the doctors at Apollo Hospital in the capital detected a plastic shell in the thigh that had escaped several examinations and X-ray tests, before it was finally removed surgically at the hospital.

“When the patient came to us, we saw a huge lump that had formed in the area. There was pus discharge, and after exploration, we realised that a plastic bullet had been lying in the thigh for the last 10 years,” Yash Gulati, senior consultant (orthopedics) at the Apollo Hospital, told IANS.

A team of doctors removed the two inches X one inch plastic bullet in an operation June 28. It was “rare” for the bullet to have remained in the thigh for 10 long years, he said.

“It was embedded at the back of his left thigh near the gluteal region. This region is full of blood vessels and small nerves,” Gulati said.

While Shuaibu was treated by doctors back home two weeks after the injury and pellets were removed, the plastic bullet remained undiscovered because it was buried deep inside.

Gulati explains: “Since it was a plastic bullet, it went unnoticed in the X-ray tests. The plastic nature also did not react with the body and showed no symptoms for almost 10 years.”

It was around June 2010 that Shuaibu began having fever and the inner region of his left thigh got swollen.

“It was all fine for so many years, but suddenly I suffered shooting pain in the left thigh. The pain grew with each day and I began facing difficulties in long distance walks,” recalled Shuaibu, who stayed at the hospital’s guest house.

“The soreness became unbearable when I had foul smelling discharge from the region,” added Shuaibu, who is all set to leave for his native country.

The surgery cost him around Rs.70,000, less than half the Rs.2 lakh it would have cost in Nigeria.

Though the plastic shell did not have any grave reaction with the body, doctors said it began showing symptoms like any foreign element in the human body would have done.

“When the plastic bullet began showing its effects after 10 years, it was a clear case of granuloma formation,” said Gulati.

Granuloma formation is a state where immune cells are formed when the body’s immune system tries to eliminate a foreign particle that has entered the body.

The patient will recover in about three weeks after the surgery and will be able to lead a pain-free life.

“It’s only a matter of a few follow-ups and the patient will recover completely,” Gulati said.

(Madhulika Sonkar can be contacted at

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