'Crohn's disease' patient had Heinz sachet in gut

Sachet in container Image copyright British Medical Journal
Image caption The patient said she had no memory of swallowing a sachet

A woman who thought for years she had bowel disease was found to have pieces of a sauce sachet in her intestine.

Doctors at Wexham Park Hospital, Slough, initially diagnosed the 41-year-old patient with Crohn's disease after bouts of acute abdominal pain.

A British Medical Journal report said that after being taken in for surgery, two pieces of Heinz plastic packaging were found perforating her gut.

Once the pieces were removed, the patient was cured.

She had no memory of eating a meal involving the sachet.

Image copyright British Medical Journal
Image caption The patient had been suffering stomach pains for six years before the source of the problem was found

Doctors said it was the first case they had seen of ingested plastic packaging mimicking the symptoms of Crohn's disease.

"It is important to consider alternative surgical diagnoses in patients with presumed Crohn's disease unresponsive to standard treatment," the report said.

What is Crohn's disease?

  • The disease mainly attacks the intestine and can result in severe diarrhoea, cramps and tiredness.
  • It can be found anywhere along the gastrointestinal tract from the mouth to the anus. The walls of the tract become inflamed, often ulcers can develop and they can be painful as food passes them in the intestine.
  • The exact cause of Crohn's disease is unknown. However, according to NHS Choices, a combination of factors may be responsible, including genetics, environmental factors and smoking.
  • There is currently no known definitive cause or cure for the condition.

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