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Case report of a smuggler's dinner: carrots and asparagus, or bolitas?

Adriana M.T.J. Raben, Saffire S.K.S. Phoa, Olivier R.C. Busch, Marcus J. Schultz

Med Sci Monit 2005; 11(12): CS79-81

ID: 438861


BACKGROUND: Body packing is a distinct method of drug smuggling. Surgeons and intensive care specialists will be confronted with body packers when packets do not pass spontaneously and rupture, causing drug toxicity. CASE REPORT: We report of a 32-year-old Liberian male who presented with abdominal complaints and anxiety after having ingested 50 cocaine-containing packets of which 49 had passed the natural route in the previous days. X-ray of his abdomen showed a structure possibly compatible with a packet in or projected over the stomach. We decided to transfer the patient to the operation theatre for surgical removal via gastrotomy. However, no packet was found. During his first day in the intensive care unit he did not regain consciousness. Repeated urine analyses for cocaine were negative. After one day he deteriorated: he needed circulatory support because of hypotension, without signs of sepsis. Repeated surgery revealed no packet. In the end he turned out not to be suffering from cocaine intoxication. CONCLUSIONS: When confronted with a case of body packing in which packets do not pass spontaneously and produce bowel obstruction or in which badly wrapped packets rupture, causing drug toxicity, it is of utmost importance to establish the nature of the packet's content.

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