Body Piercing Causing
Trouble For Doctors
By Patricia Reaney
LONDON (Reuters) - Body piercing may be a fashion statement for some but the studs and rings in tongues, navels, eyebrows and more private parts are causing problems for British doctors -- they don't know how to remove them.
``Doctors have very little idea about how to take these wretched things off or how to do anything about them unless the doctor has one himself,'' Dr Rakesh Khanna told Reuters.
The emergency room physician at Manor Hospital in the central English city of Birmingham said it is not a problem doctors encounter every day but that when it does occur many are helpless to remove the jewelry, particularly if the patient is unconscious.
``It is a problem doctors have to deal with,'' he said.
In a study in the Journal of Accident and Emergency Medicine, Khanna and his colleagues said only six of 28 emergency room doctors they questioned knew how to open the most common types of body piercing jewelry.
These include the barbell stud used in the lip, tongue and male and female genitalia, the labret stud found most often in the nose, navel and eyebrow and the captive bead which resembles a loop earring.
``If you know how to do it, it's no problem at all. It's just a question of unscrewing something. The problem is if you don't you may spend an hour of your time trying to get it out,'' said Khanna.
Doctors often have to remove the jewelry when bleeding, swelling or an infection develops, or when patients have to be treated for other medical conditions or emergencies.
Tongue piercing can be particularly troublesome for X-rays of the head because the stud or ring can get in the way. Body piercing jewelry also has to be removed for whole body or brain scans.
Infections resulting from piercing could lead to blood poisoning, although Khanna said he has found no reports of deaths due to body piercing in medical studies.
``Even a small infection can lead to blood poisoning,'' he told Reuters.
People with congenital heart diseases may also develop endocarditis, a potentially deadly infection of the heart valve, after body piercing.
Khanna and his colleagues said doctors should also be concerned about the vogue in ``extreme'' piercing of male and female genitalia.
``There are many variations of these basic themes involving the use of chains and locks in addition to the body jewelry,'' they said in the journal.