A 15-year-old boy in Ohio required a visit to the emergency room after he inhaled a dart from a homemade blowgun, according to a new report of his case.
The dart lodged in the boy's airway after he inhaled deeply while holding the blowgun in his mouth. Blowguns are designed to allow darts to be propelled outward by the force of an exhaled breath. The gun mostly consists of a narrow tube.
When he arrived at the emergency room, the boy had already been coughing for three hours. Although the boy said he had just been playing with his siblings — with no mention of the blowgun — X-rays of his airway revealed the dart. After further questioning, the boy admitted to using the blowgun.
The case highlights the potential dangers of blowguns for teens, especially when the blowguns are made by using instructions on the Internet, which the boy had done. Most websites that provide instructions regarding how to make blowguns do not adequately warn about the guns' risks, the researchers said.
"It's really a setup for foreign body aspiration," study researcher Dr. Kris Jatana, an ear, nose and throat doctor at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, said of blowgun use by teens. (Aspiration means inhaling a foreign material.)
When a child inhales deeply (to produce a forceful breath to propel the dart forward), their vocal chords open fully, which makes it easier for objects to enter their airway, Jatana said.
The boy underwent a nonsurgical procedure in which a tube is inserted down the throat to view objects in the airway, and the dart was removed. Despite inhaling a sharp object, the boy was not harmed by the ordeal, according to the case report.