Doctors at a respiratory clinic in Preston, England, made the discovery after the patient, a 47-year-old handyman, was referred to them because of a nagging cough that had lasted more than a year, according to the BBC.
Doctors did a scan on the patient’s lung and noticed something on it. Because the man was a longtime smoker, they assumed it was a tumor.
The truth made the doctors gasp themselves: During a bronchoscopy, they discovered the tumor was actually a tiny toy traffic cone the patient had received as part of a gift when he turned 7, according to The Guardian.
Doctors have removed this Playmobil toy traffic cone from a patient’s lung – 40 years after he swallowed it https://t.co/fsBx9JRkOR pic.twitter.com/ZexbxI14sc
— BBC News England (@BBCEngland) September 26, 2017
Doctors removed the tiny plastic cone with forceps.
Afterward, the patient confessed he had swallowed Playmobil pieces during his childhood, according to a report in BMJ Case Reports, but didn’t know he had inhaled one.
The doctors who wrote the report said while kids commonly inhale small objects by accident, this case was unusual because the onset of symptoms occurred nearly 40 years later.
To their knowledge, they said it was the first reported case of a tracheobronchial foreign body that was overlooked for 40 years.
They hypothesize the patient’s airway somehow adapted to the presence of the plastic toy or was absorbed into the lining of the lung.
The best part is that four months after the procedure, the patient is reportedly not coughing and other symptoms have improved, according to The Guardian.