5 Strangest Medical Cases You may not have heard
From a woman with purple pee to a man whose gut microbes brewed their own booze, a number of intriguing medical cases made headlines. So-called "case reports," which describe the conditions of individual patients, don't carry the same authoritative weight as rigorous scientific studies with thousands of people participating. But such reports can sometimes help doctors better understand rare diseases or spot unusual signs of common conditions.
Here are top 5 of the strangest case for you.
"Catheter bags," are not usually a hot topic of discussion, unless the patient's pee turns purple. That was the case for a woman in France who, after 10 days of hospitalization, saw the pee in her catheter bag change from a normal yellow to a curious violet.
The rare condition, known simply as "purple urine bag syndrome" is result of an odd chemical reaction that can take place inside catheter bags. Fortunately, the French woman did not have a urinary tract infection, and her pee gradually returned to normal after a four-day period of increased hydration, according to a report of the case, published in The New England Journal of Medicine.
When a young woman told doctors she was "blue," she meant it literally. The 25-year-old went to the emergency room with a bluish discoloration to her skin. When doctors drew blood from the patient's arteries, it appeared dark blue instead of the normal bright red.
She was diagnosed with methemoglobinemia, a blood disorder resulted from a reaction totopical numbing medication which she applied for a toothache. She was treated with methylene blue, which can quickly reverse the condition, according to a report, published in The New England Journal of Medicine.
The man swore he never consumed alcohol, but his doctors refused to believe him, not only did the man appear drunk, his blood alcohol level was very high. But as it turns out, the man was telling truth, he had a rare condition in which his gut microbes brewed their own booze.
For six years, the 46-year-old man experienced episodes of mysterious drunkenness, according to a report of his case, published in the journal BMJ Open Gastroenterology. Eventually, doctors diagnosed the man with the auto-brewery syndrome (ABS), which happens when microorganisms in gut ferment carbohydrates into alcohol. Antibiotics wiped out these boozy microbes, and probiotics helped reestablish a healthy gut microbiome. He was eventually able to eat carbs again without becoming intoxicated.
Sometimes, the body grows bone in places it shouldn't. For one 63-year-old man, this happened in the penis.
The man underwent a pelvic X-ray after a fall, and doctors discovered there was "ossification" along the entire shaft of his penis, according to a report of the case, published in the September issue of the journal Urology Case Reports. In other words, his penis was turning to bone. The man was diagnosed with "penile ossification." The condition is very rare, with fewer than 40 cases reported in the medical literature. Ossification happens when calcium salts build up in soft tissues, leading to bone formation.
When a man's chest caught fire during heart surgery, it wasn't a case of spontaneous combustion. The 60-year-old man needed surgery to fix a life-threatening tear in his chest artery, according to the report, presented in a meeting of the European Society of Anaesthesiology. The man had a history of chronic lung disease, and during the surgery, doctors needed to give the man a high dose of supplemental oxygen to prevent breathing problems. Doctors also used an electrocautery device, which heats tissue with electricity, to stop blood vessels from bleeding.
Suddenly, sparks from the electrocautery device ignited a fire on the surgical gauze. The fire was quickly extinguished with saline, without injury to patient. The use of supplemental oxygen likely contributed to the surgical fire. Despite the incident, the rest of the man's surgery went well, and doctors successfully repaired the tear.