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November 11, 1961

Foreign Bodies in the Gastrointestinal Tract

Author Affiliations

Deerfield Beach, Fla.

JAMA. 1961;178(6):665-667. doi:10.1001/jama.1961.73040450022019c

THE APPEARANCE in various publications, from time to time, of reports of cases of foreign body in the gastrointestinal tract1 always interests me because so often the author appears to be surprised when a foreign body of unusual shape or size is successfully passed without surgical intervention.

In 1920 I had the opportunity to organize the Medical and Surgical Division of Saint Elizabeths Hospital, Washington, D.C., where I remained as Director during the ensuing 36 years, until my retirement in 1956. Like all hospitals caring for the mentally ill, we had our quota of those patients who occasionally or habitually swallowed foreign bodies. We learned very early in our experience that nearly all of such patients would successfully pass these foreign bodies if given time and patience.

During that period of 36 years I saw many dozens, probably several hundreds, of such cases. The foreign bodies ingested included not

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