A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about a favorite topic for amusement among general surgeons, rectal foreign bodies, particularly the strange things people like to stick up their bottoms for whatever reason. I pointed out at the time that sometimes the excuses such patients make when seeking medical attention are a bit–shall we say?–hard to believe. It figures that a mere three weeks later someone would send me an example of something different, a hospital administrator not accepting what seems like an absolutely honest explanation for how a foreign object got up there:

Doctors in central Kenya have successfully removed an empty half-litre beer bottle from a man’s colon, a report said Friday, but how it got there remains a mystery.

The 26cm bottle was removed on Monday from the colon of the 33-year-old man after two operations in a Kiambu District Hospital, about 20km from the capital, the Daily Metro newspaper reported.

“The first operation was not successful, forcing us to perform a second one, which went fine,” said the hospital’s administrator Patrick Okoth.

Although the man, whose identity was not disclosed, said he had pushed the bottle through his rectum, Okoth said it was nearly impossible for the man to have done that by himself.

“It would have been too painful. He would have had to use a whole length of his arm,” Okoth said, adding that the bottle inflicted “no damage at all” in the man’s internal organs.

I sense a bit of denial here. Apparently Mr. Okoth has not worked in hospitals in the U.S.

Of course, this could also be an urban legend; I’ve had difficulty finding the primary news report, which I sought mainly to find the photograph of the X-ray of the beer bottle, the better to add it to my collection. Given that, I’m not entirely convinced that this story actually happened.


  1. #1 NoAstronomer
    October 27, 2007

    This is a serious matter you know. Coincidently, on Thursday Wikipedia had this article about a case of ‘rectal insertion’ that helped destroy a country.

  2. #2 David B.
    October 27, 2007

    I agree with the first comment, I don’t think you’re taking this seriously enough. Most men aren’t going to admit they’ve been raped. They’ll make up a story saying they did it themselves before they’ll every admit someone did it to them forcibly.

    I just wrote a NEWS item on my blog regarding domestic abuse amongst gay men – it suffers from significant underreporting for similar reasons.

    David B.

  3. #3 Orac
    October 27, 2007

    You both missed one very important piece of information in the story: There was no injury.

    It was pointed out in the story that there was “no injury to any internal organs.” If it had been rape, forcibly inserting something as large as a half liter bottle would almost certainly have caused injury to the anal sphincter and/or the rectum. It’s possible that this represented an assault, but without injury it is considerably less likely. These things often migrate as well, even sometimes “upstream,” so to speak. The story also didn’t say where in the colon. Chances are, it was in the sigmoid or left colon (the sharp turn that the colon takes at the splenic flexure would make it unlikely for an object that large to make it to the transverse colon and no one, even an assailant, would be likely to be able to get that far anyway).

    So, although I note your concern, I still tend to doubt that this was an assault.

  4. #4 Regine
    October 27, 2007

    2nd marriage in ’01 was to a man familiar with anal sex, I was not. 3 years of agony finally ended in divorce. Adultery, not the variety of sex, tho it was enough of a reason. I cannot explain the shame visitng my gastro/surgeon thinking how he must ‘see’ the difference before/after in my colonoscopies. For me, its not about gay/what gets put where, its the utter shamelessness in presenting one’s body, mutilated or violated in medicine, art, media…as if all acts human commit on themselves and others, are acceptable or within the context of normal.

  5. #5 speedwell
    October 27, 2007

    Regine, if he was holding you down and raping you anally, you have my full sympathy. If he wasn’t, then you have no sympathy from me. And before you start screaming bloody murder, I myself am the ex-wife of a batterer. Jesus, people need to grow up and take responsibility at some point, and other people need to butt their noses right out of other people’s sex lives.

  6. #6 DuWayne
    October 27, 2007

    This reminded me about a “great” journal you would love, called Alternatives. The local ad that caught my eye, was for a self styled “colon coach.” He had his picture in the ad, climbing through a very large rendering of a colon and all I could picture was Eneman in there wrestling him down.

    As for the bottle thing, that’s nothing. I had a very embarrassing moment, when I lived with a gay couple. I got up in the middle of the night to make a wee and open the bathroom door, to find them in the tub fisting. I’m talking the full length of my actual roomies forearm, to the elbow, up his boyfriend’s pooter. I am still close friends with them, but that was way more than I wanted to observe.

    But hey, while it’s not my cup of tea, whatever floats one’s boat. I am definitely not one to judge.

  7. #7 Rjaye
    October 27, 2007

    Orac, I bet this is a cultural thing where this sort of thing is just not imaginable. Denial perhaps? I mean, look at the President of Iran denying there are homosexuals in his country…that’s cultural. Granted, many are closeted or killed outright, but the idea is just not acceptable. And this “president” is well-educated.

    And what is it about fisting? There is just something so…ew. Is it to test the limits of trust, or the patency of the human body? At least they were doing it in the tub and not on the sofa…

  8. #8 sea Creature
    October 27, 2007

    DuWayne, ever hear of knocking? I mean, the light had to be on for you to have seen the act in so much detail. I have to say I am skeptical of what you describe because it smacks of the “oh my god they had it in up to the shoulder and he was ready to put in his other arm to” type of story. If I’m wrong, well, your friends are definitely more capable of “loosening up” than I will ever be.

  9. #9 DuWayne
    October 27, 2007

    sea Creature –

    They weren’t up to the shoulder, only the elbow. And we always left the light on in the bathroom at night, the switch was hard to get at. Knocking was never a big thing and the door was always closed. And honestly, I wasn’t really traumatized. Been there, done worse.

    If I’m wrong, well, your friends are definitely more capable of “loosening up” than I will ever be.

    You’d be surprised. Given enough “training,” I am confident you could do it. Please don’t ask why, but I have communicated with a couple of porn chicks, who do extreme type things like that. You would swear it hurts, apparently it really doesn’t.

  10. #10 bb
    October 27, 2007

    Slightly off topic, but I treasure my actual copy of a 1980 British Medical Journal article entitled “Penile injuries from vacuum cleaners” (published under the rather infelicitous section heading: “Short reports”). The patients’ explanations of the circumstances leading to their injuries are delightful.

    The rest of you can view a scanned copy of the article, with a helpful link to a printable PDF version, courtesy of PubMed:


  11. #11 Warren
    October 29, 2007

    If it were a Coke bottle, at least they could have used the “gods must be crazy” dodge.

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