An unnamed 41-year-old woman who thought she had been living with a type of inflammatory bowel disease for six years was latter discovered that the the unusual inflammatory bowel mass was caused by a tomato ketchup sachet.
Doctors had earlier diagnosed her with Crohn’s disease because of the symptoms she presented with which included bouts of acute abdominal pain and bloating lasting up to three days, however she didn’t experience rectal bleeding, her appetite was good and she didn’t lose weight.
Crohn’s disease is a long-term, often debilitating condition that causes inflammation of the lining of the digestive system. This inflammation most commonly occurs in the last section of the small intestine (ileum) or the large intestine. Common signs and symptoms of Crohn’s are recurring diarrhoea, abdominal pain and cramping which is usually worse after eating, extreme tiredness, unintended weight loss, blood and mucus in your faeces, a high temperature of 38ºC (100ºF), joint pain and swelling, inflammation and irritation of the eyes and mouth ulcers.
When she failed to respond to standard medications, baffled doctors at Heatherwood and Wexham Park Hospital, Slough, UK, eventually decided surgery was her only option.
She underwent a keyhole surgery that found an inflamed mass in the small intestine, revealing two pieces of plastic ketchup sachet bearing the famous branding ‘Heinz’!
When the plastic was removed, her symptoms disappeared.
The woman could not recall consuming a meal involving a ketchup sachet (or anything similar).
Doctors, writing in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) said it was the first reported case of ingested plastic packaging mimicking the symptoms of Crohn’s disease.
‘It is important to consider alternative surgical diagnoses in patients with presumed Crohn’s disease unresponsive to standard treatment,’ the report said.
Her story was featured alongside 15,000 others in BMJ Case Reports, documenting everything from the hazards of misusing common household products to the consequences of unwittingly swallowing everyday items.