Removal of Broken Knife Blade From Spinal Canal

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In the absence of infection the presence of a metallic foreign body in the tissues may be of little clinical significance. This, however, is not always true. The following case is reported because it demonstrates conclusively that a metallic foreign body can cause progressive damage to adjacent nerve tissue. The foreign body was a chrome-plated steel knife blade with a nick exposing the steel on that part of the blade which lay within the spinal cord. Corrosion occurred at this site. Pain was the first irritative symptom and began one month after introduction of the foreign body. Signs of cord damage progressed rapidly from the twelfth to the fourteenth month and began to subside within five days after the blade’s removal.


A white man, aged 37, was first examined on October 11, 1944 with complaints of weakness in the legs, numbness from the waist down, and pains about the lower chest. While employed as a bus driver in October 1943 he was attacked by a passenger. As he ducked under his assailant’s arm, he received a blow on the back and dropped to the floor paralyzed from the waist down. He was taken to a hospital, and his wife was told the paralysis was caused by hysteria.

Roentgenologic examination of the spine ten days after the accident was said to be normal. At the end of fifteen days a slow gradual return of function began and continued for three months, after which numbness and weakness remained static. After,. . .



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