A 24-year-old engineering student in Jammu, Prashant Chalotra returned home tired and went to sleep. Turning in his bed, he felt a sharp pinch on the left side of his chest. It was a needle that had pierced halfway into his heart.
"I suddenly woke up and saw a small portion of the needle protruding from my chest. But as I bent forward to pull it out, the needle penetrated further in," said Prashant. For three days, the 4cm long sewing needle remained stuck in Prashant's heart. Doctors in Jammu operated on him to take it out but they just couldn't find it.
Prashant was finally brought to the Escorts Heart Institute and Research Centre (EHIRC) in the capital. There, doctors performed a tricky surgery, and even used a magnet, to extricate the needle out without damaging the heart, reports The Times of India.
Says Prashant's mother, Soma Devi : "We rushed him to the government medical college, but the doctors there gave us some medicines and said everything was fine. They asked us to return in three days as they were on strike."
As the pain became unbearable, Prashant was taken to a private hospital where doctors tried to pull out the needle, but were unable to locate it. Three days after the incident and one heart surgery later, Prashant reached EHIRC and was immediately taken for the surgery.
"In the CT scan we got to know the rough location of the needle. It was stuck in the thick muscles around the left ventricle. But when reached the heart, we couldn't see the needle. It had penetrated deeper," said Dr Y K Mishra, director, cardiac surgery, EHIRC.
Prashant was put on a heart-and-lung machine, as the heart had to be stopped to prevent the needle from penetrating further. But the biggest challenge before doctors was to locate the needle.
"With each contraction, the needle was sliding deep inside the heart. It is difficult to locate a thin 3-4 cm long needle in the huge chunk of muscles. We couldn't cut open the thick layer of muscles around the left ventricle, as it would have caused a lot of trauma to the heart. We decided to enter the heart through the usual procedure. We were lucky as the tip of the needle had pierced the wall of the left ventricle. When I peeped inside the valve in the left side of the heart, I could only see the tip of the needle," said Dr Mishra.
As a major portion of the needle was still stuck in the muscles, Dr Mishra decided to use a magnet to pull the needle inside the valve. "We could get a grip on the tip of the needle with our surgical instruments. That is why, decided to use a magnet to pull it out slightly before extricating it," said Dr Mishra.
Chalotra, an engineering graduate, is all set to go home. Doctors say that he is lucky, as the needle didn't slip into the blood stream. "Had it entered the blood stream, it could have caused potential damage to vital organs, including the brain, as heart pumps blood to the entire body. Had I not seen the tip of the needle, it would have been very difficult to locate it," said Dr Mishra.