In the 19th and 20th centuries, laryngologist Chevalier Jackson pioneered new methods to remove weird things that people swallowed, from safety pins, buttons, cigarette butts, and even a toy dog (seen here in the esophagus of the 3-year-old who gulped it down). Jackson developed quite a collection of the objects and eventually donated them to the fantastic Mutter Museum of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Jackson's story is told in English professor Mary Cappello's curious new book, "Swallow: Foreign Bodies, Their Ingestion, Inspiration, and the Curious Doctor Who Extracted Them." From AOL News:
Take, for example, the 1923 case of a baby boy, Joseph B. According to his account, Jackson removed 32 foreign bodies from within the child, including buttons, closed safety pins, bent straight pins, cigarette butts and burnt matches.
Joseph's mother had ignored signs at home, dismissing evidence — such as a button found in her son's stool — by assuming it fell off his clothing. Buried inside the case study, Cappello found wha
t she considered a "throwaway line" offering an explanation:
"According to a statement made by both the father and the mother, the child was cared for by a friend on May 28, and they believe that she deliberately fed these many articles to the child." The question of why this caretaker would have done such a thing is not discussed.
"Jackson wasn't really interested in human psychology," Cappello said. "He was trying to master the foreign body. But he had to leave certain things out of his inquiry. He mastered it as a mechanical problem. But not the problems the foreign body presented to him when it involved human psychology."
While many cases may have involved bizarre psychological circumstances — either by force or self-inflicted — Jackson preached carelessness as the main cause of foreign body ingestion. In a 1937 article, he wrote, "Chew your milk!" He continued to explain that people eat too fast; even milk should be sipped, rolled around in the mouth and mixed with saliva before swallowing.