Doctors in Australia removed a balloon filled with cannabis from a man’s nose 18 years after he tried to smuggle the drug into prison, according to a new medical journal.
The man, who was then an inmate, was given a small amount of cannabis by his girlfriend when she visited him in prison.
She handed him the drugs inside a rubber balloon, according to an article in the British Medical Journal‘s Case Reports titled ‘A nose out of joint’.
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“In order to evade detection, the patient inserted the package inside his right nostril,” the report, which was published on 15 October, noted.
“Despite effectively smuggling the package past the prison guards, [he] then accidentally pushed the package deeper into his nostril and mistakenly believed he had swallowed it.”
The man, now 48, spent the next 18 years unaware the drugs were in his nose.
Over that time the balloon hardened into a rhinolith, a stone which can develop and obstruct a nostril.
This happened as calcium salts built up around the balloon, changing its composition.
The man suffered years of sinus infections, nasal obstructions and related headaches but did not know the cause.
Eventually a CT scan of the 48-year-old’s brain, ordered due to his headaches, revealed an object inside his nostril.
Further tests revealed “a firm grey mass in the right nasal cavity,” researchers said.
Doctors removed the rhinolith surgically and found the stone was formed of a “rubber capsule containing degenerate vegetable/plant matter.”
The patient later recalled the prison incident.
Three months after the surgery, the man told doctors his symptoms had vanished.
The team of researchers, led by Murray Smith, said the case was the first report of prison-acquired marijuana becoming a rhinolith.