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An Illinois man accidentally inhaled a drill bit during a dental procedure — and it ended up in his lung

<i>WISN</i><br/>Tom Jozsi swallowed an inch-long drill bit during a dental procedure.
Tom Jozsi swallowed an inch-long drill bit during a dental procedure.

By Zoe Sottile, CNN

One Illinois man has even more reason to be scared of going to the dentist.

Tom Jozsi, 60, was at the dentist for a routine procedure when he accidentally inhaled a one-inch dental drill bit — which soon became lodged in his lung.

“Well, I don’t know. I was at the dentist getting a tooth filled, and then next thing I know I was told I swallowed this tool,” Jozsi told CNN affiliate WISN 12. “I didn’t really even feel it going down. All I felt was a cough. When they did the CT scan they realized, you didn’t swallow it, you inhaled it.”

The sharp metal drill bit landed in the right lower lobe of Jozsi’s lung, and the sharp edges caused him to cough up blood, according to pulmonologist Abdul Hamid Alraiyes, who treated Jozsi. Foreign objects like this in the lung usually require surgery to remove part of the lung along with the stuck object, Alraiyes told CNN.

“That foreign body was in the mouth and bacteria in the mouth is the most virulent and very aggressive bacteria, and if it’s sitting there it will create an abscess down the road,” he said. “That’s why you have to get rid of it as soon as possible.”

But Alraiyes and his team at the Aurora Medical Center-Kenosha in Kenosha, Wisconsin, came up with a creative way to get the drill bit out. He and a nurse practitioner colleague utilized robotic bronchoscopy, a technique usually used to detect tiny lung cancer nodules. They theorized that the small size of the catheter used would allow them to navigate the narrow airways and remove the drill bit without damaging Jozsi’s lung.

The 90-minute procedure went “exactly as planned,” Alraiyes said. After the surgery, he approached Jozsi with the drill bit hidden behind his back before showing it to him and announcing they had been successful.

Jozsi went home the same day as his procedure and his recovery has been “excellent,” according to Alraiyes.

The pulmonologist, who also teaches at Rosalind Franklin University, emphasized the contributions of all of the staff who collaborated to extract the sharp dental tool from Jozsi’s lung.

“This wouldn’t have happened if I was working by myself,” he said.

Now that it’s safely out of his lung, Joszi is keeping the drill bit on a shelf at his home, WISN 12 reported.

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