Man didn't notice 3 inch nail go into his brain

 Multimedia Archive 02115 Xray 2115924B

Dante Antullo, 32, thought a nail gun accident last week had just left him with a surface abrasion. But the next day, he felt nauseous and his girlfriend convinced him to see a doctor. Physicians found a 3 1/4-inch nail in his brain. Surgeons removed it and Antullo is recovering well. From the AP:

“When they brought in the picture, I said to the doctor ‘Is this a joke? Did you get that out of the doctors joke file?’” the 32-year-old recalled. “The doctor said ‘No man, that’s in your head.’”

Autullo, who lives in Orland Park (Illinois), said he was building a shed Tuesday and using the nail gun above his head when he fired it. With nothing to indicate that a nail hadn’t simply whizzed by his head, his long-time companion, Gail Glaenzer, cleaned the wound with peroxide.

“It really felt like I got punched on the side of the head,” he said, adding that he continued working. “I thought it went past my ear.”

"X-ray reveals truth, 3-inch nail removed from Ill. man’s brain"


  1. This is why I advocate regular self-examinations for potential puncture wounds in the scalp/skull that may indicate the radical insertion of nails, bullets, crossbow bolts, hunting knives, crowbars, etc.

    With a little extra promotion, I think I can get an “awareness” month declared for it, along with some 5K runs.

  2. Every time I see these “I didn’t know ________” stories, I always think there is NO way they didn’t know it happened.

    Then, I start to think about all the cuts, scrapes, bruises, etc, that “I” don’t know the cause.

    I’m glad the guy is ok, but is it me or is it always some super small distance “from a vital something”? Or do we just never hear about the people that have it go that extra millimeter?

    1. The interior of the brain has no nerve endings for pain, so likely the only pain he felt was the surface wound, hence increasing the chance he wouldn’t know he’d done it. Of course, the odds were actually pretty high that he’d have killed himself. I suppose in that case he wouldn’t have known he’d done it either.

  3. Aren’t nail guns designed so that they cannot let a nail fly through the air? They have to be pressed against something to fire – I thought.

    1. Yes, and I’ve heard this story several times over the last 20 years or so. I have family that works an ER, and they have heard this story more than a few times.  This guy certainly was not the first.

    2. The part of the gun that needs to be pressed against something isn’t in EXACTLY the same part of space that the nail exits from, so it’s possible to push it against the edge of something and fire a nail through the air.  Also, sometimes nails will go through things.

      1. I’ve got a (now retired) contractor friend who was bracing a stud while a guy on the other side put a nail into it. The nail went through the stud and took out his eye.

    3. I had an employee/carpenter applying cedar shingles to a wall a few years back. He was working on a lower course while sitting down cross legged on a deck. He set the coil nailer filled with 2 inch, ring shanked, stainless steel nails on his feet while he picked up each shingle and positioned it. You know where this is headed. He picked up the gun and grabbed the trigger and the nose piece was depressed against his foot so it fired, nailing his boot  to his heel.  He was most upset because they cut his new boot off at the emergency room, leaving a little square piece of leather and sock for the doctor to remove with the nail.

      1. That’s why I always pull the nail before I go in for treatment.  Although those ring shanked bastards are horrible to pull, and the heads tear off easy on stainless ones.

  4. I love my doctor. But I would have a whole new level of appreciation for him if he had a joke file with stuff like that in it that he pulled out every now and again.

  5. I’m still unclear on where the nail went in. It says “the side of his head.” In the picture, the head of the nail is intact, suggesting it would have had to leave a hole a little larger than 1/4″ — that really looked like a surface abrasion? And from the picture, it looked like it had to have entered the *back* of his head, unless it spun around inside. Confusing.

    1. There doesn’t seem to be a picture in the actual linked article. The image could be there for effect.

  6. Xrays don’t show perspective, it could have been a very long nail that went in near his ear and the picture at the top of the page is actually showing it pointed at the viewer at a 45 degree angle. Or maybe his head was turned away from the camera’s perspective, and the result is not a perfect profile.
    Or maybe it’s all a hoax!

  7. Maybe the nail affected the part of his brain  that tells you whether you have a nail in your brain.  

  8. Nails from nail guns can also rebound off of knots, metal, etc. and come back towards the user.  There was a case on the ‘ole internets I remember seeing where the nail entered a man’s brain through the tear duct and remained there undetected for a number of years.

  9. I’ve seen roofers disable the trigger on their nailguns with zip ties or wire, so they can use the “safety” lever at the nail’s exit point to fire the gun.
    When nailing shingles, they position the shingle with one hand and POP-POP-POP-POP bounce the nailgun, firing the four nails into the right spots just by hitting the roof with the weight of the nailgun, holding onto the BACK of the gun by the airhose attachment point.
    This may be quicker, but defeating safety mechanisms is not a good course of action.
    There have been many injuries from such ‘modified’ nailguns from the worker dropping the gun or falling off the roof along with it, the nailgun firing a nail into whatever hits the “safety” lever at each bounce.
    I saw an X-ray image of such an injury where the man had several nails in his skull.
    I imagine this or something similar is what happened to Mr. Antullo.
    Or, you know, go for the Darwin Award. 
    Whichever ;)

  10. Hell, given the force the guns use and the mass of the nail people who shoot themselves in the head with a nail gun should be glad the nail does behave like a small caliber bullet and bounce around inside the skull.


  11. I’m not sure whether this is verbatim reporting or rephrased by the nail-ee, but any doctor who addresses his patients as “man” has to be a cool dude.

  12. This is “common” enough that at least some hospitals ask whether you have ever used nail guns as part of the clearance for MRI scans (along with asking if you have any bits of metal in your body). 

    1. I didn’t know that- the only time I had an MRI, I was 8 years old so  they asked my parents the questions, and I assume didn’t ask about things like nail guns.

      I did know (having heard it from other people) that they ask if you’ve done any welding, and if you have they X-ray your eyes because there might be tiny bits of metal dust in them…

  13. That looks so painful i cannot believe he did not notice. Its Good thing they caught that before it entered parts of the brain such as the memory…that would have been horrible.

  14. The one thing I don’t understand is he mentions thinking  it went past his ear…um…wouldn’t you then look around on the floor perhaps to try and find the nail?  And didn’t you notice the lack of the tinkly sound of metal hitting the floor?

    1. Not necessarily.  Building sites are usually littered with old nails, screws etc and it could easily just blend in.  Plus, I don’t think I’d have the presence of mind to listen for the tinkelly sound, if I’d just felt a nail whiz past my ear (…or not).

    2. wouldn’t you then look around on the floor perhaps to try and find the nail?

      Maybe his floor had plenty of nails on it anyway

      And didn’t you notice the lack of the tinkly sound of metal hitting the floor?

      The nail may have caused some disturbance to the brain (perhaps like an absence seizure) so he missed the immediate significance of missing the nail.

      1. No, you might not notice anything amiss.  I nailed into my finger with a brad nailer once.  My finger was behind the thing I was nailing and the nail penetrated the wood and came out the back.  The nail was the right length, which is why my hand was back there in the first place.  But what I wasn’t counting on was the nail hitting soft pulpy wood and then traveling all the way THROUGH the wood to stick out the back.  That taught me to not have my hand anywhere near the blast zone and to keep a hammer on hand to beat my nailer to shreds when it misbehaves.

  15. I was working in a factory that made wooden garage doors about 20 years ago. The individual bits of wood for the frame were laid out on a big table top jig and then the boards laid on top of those before it was all nailed together using air nailers. All nice and safe you would think as if a nail over penetrated it would just go into the tabletop jig.

    One of the guys working there was kinda short so for the really big double doors he would have to crawl around on top of everything nailing it all in place. He didn’t have a problem with the nails.

    The main pressure bit of the nailer exploded when something failed catastrophically, shot past his face and was found embedded in the steel sheeting roof 30 feet above his head.

    When all is said and done whats wrong with a hammer

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