Doctors in Uttar Pradesh removed 63 steel spoon handles from the stomach of a man whom they believe had become addicted to swallowing cutlery.
The patient, identified only by his first name Vijay, was rushed to a hospital last Saturday after complaining of excruciating stomach pain and underwent emergency surgery to remove the metal objects.
The 32-year-old was unable to eat or drink and complained of feeling weak at the time of admission, prompting doctors to take X-rays and CT scans to determine the cause of the pain.
A doctor at Evan hospital in Muzaffarnagar city said on Wednesday that they initially suspected it to be a tumour, but on a closer examination of the scans, they found a cluster of foreign objects in his stomach.
They immediately performed a laparotomy - a surgical incision into his abdominal cavity - and removed the metal spoon handles one by one over more than two hours.
"After further inspection, we realised the foreign objects were steel spoons. We were shocked to see so many spoons in his stomach," Dr Rakesh Khurana, the surgeon who performed the operation, told The National.
"There were 63 of them. Never in my career of nearly 35 years have I seen such a case. It is one of the rare medical cases."
Dr Khurana said the man broke the head off the spoons and swallowed only the handles.
The patient is being kept in the intensive care unit (ICU) to recuperate.
Doctors believe the patient is suffering from a psychological condition, known as pica, which causes a person to crave and compulsively eat non-food items such as coal, metal, clay or dirt.
"No person in their right state of mind would do that. It must be very difficult and painful to swallow the spoons. It is abnormal behaviour," said Dr Khurana.
The patient said he started eating the metal objects about six months ago after he was forced to do so in a de-addiction centre.
Mr Ajay Caudhary, the patient's nephew, said: "We took our uncle to the private hospital as he complained of severe stomach ache and had numerous spoons in his stomach.
"We had admitted him to a de-addiction centre a year ago, where he apparently was forced to consume these spoons."
A family friend of the patient said they would go to the police after Mr Vijay's discharge from ICU if they found merit in his allegations against the de-addiction centre.
Indo-Asian News Service