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October 10, 2010

Research on Sword Swallowing and Its Side Effects

Research has actually shown that sword-swallowing can cause sore throats! No kidding!

This particular research was based on 110 sword-swallowers from 16 different countries and was published in the British Medical Journal in 2006.

This research won the 2007 Ig Nobel Prize in Medicine. Watch a YouTube Video of a sword-swallower in action:



ENTs regularly perform a similar procedure when we perform "Direct Esophagoscopy". Just like a sword, it is an elongated rigid metal structure, except in the shape of a tube that we place through the mouth down towards the stomach. This procedure is used to look for mucosal lesions/masses (cancer) as well as retrieve foreign objects unable to pass. Gastroenterologists perform a similar procedure, but using a long flexible scope instead of a rigid scope. Some ENTs perform "Trans-Nasal Esophagoscopy" whereby instead of placing a flexible scope in the mouth (like the GIs do it) and threading down into the stomach, the scope is placed instead through the nose! Esophageal dilatation is another procedure similar to sword swallowing, but using stiff rubber in order to open up areas of narrowing in the esophagus.

Reference:
Sword swallowing and its side effects. BMJ 2006; 333 : 1285 doi: 10.1136/bmj.39027.676690.55 (Published 21 December 2006)
Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids. Google+ Christopher Chang, MD Bio

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