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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Young Man With Suspected Foreign Body Ingestion


As United States emergency departments (ED) and hospitals continue to contend with increasing numbers of patients presenting with complications of substance abuse, emergency physicians should also be aware of patients who may be smuggling illicit drugs. We report the case of a 26-year-old man who was transported to the ED for suspected drug smuggling. Abdominal computed tomography was notable for the presence of multiple tubular foreign bodies throughout the colon that were later identified as packets containing heroin. Body-packing patients present a high-risk clinical scenario that may result in massive, inadvertent drug exposure.

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