Man survives a nail in the eye
Man survives a nail in the eye A CT scan with a nail in the eye of a patient (AP photos)
Man survives a nail in the eye
Lexile: 1120L

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There must have been a four-leaf clover in those weeds.

A 27-year-old landscaper escaped with barely a scratch after a nearly 3-inch nail hurtled into his eye when he accidentally hit it with a weed-whacker.

Doctors who removed the nail at Boston's Massachusetts General Hospital described the case in the New England Journal of Medicine.

"When you looked at him, all you saw was the back end of the nail" in his right eye, said Dr. Wael Asaad, a neurosurgeon now at Rhode Island Hospital and Brown University.

It happened about two years ago and the man wasn't identified.

Doctors couldn't tell how long the nail was or its path, so radiologist Dr. Rajiv Gupta used a new type of CT scanner to get detailed images.

"It reached almost to the tip of the other eye and the brain. It was a very long nail," he said.

The good news was that it had not penetrated the globe of the eye, but was to one side.

The bad news was that it was lodged against one of the main arteries supplying blood to the head and another artery serving the other eye.

"The tip of the nail was like the finger in the dam (and) we were worried that if we pulled it out, there would be bleeding" a jet of blood that could damage the other eye or the brain, or even prove fatal, Asaad said.

So they made an elaborate plan in case an artery ruptured and had to be repaired: One surgeon was ready to operate through the head while a second surgeon was ready to operate through the neck. As these two stood by, a third surgeon carefully pulled out the nail.

They waited several minutes and no major bleeding occurred so they stopped sedating him and the patient was allowed to wake. After a tetanus shot and a prescription for five days of preventive antibiotics, he was on his way.

A checkup eight weeks later showed his vision had returned to normal. Had the nail struck 1 millimeter away, he likely would have had major damage, doctors said.

As dramatic as it was, "nails penetrating the skull are not as uncommon as you would think," usually from nail gun accidents, Asaad said.

Gupta said the lesson is clear: "Wear eye protection whenever operating heavy machinery" or power tools, even simple ones used in gardening.

Critical thinking challenge: Why was the landscaper injured by a nail instead of some other object?

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Assigned 20 times

  • jasonm-Koc
    5/20/2015 - 03:19 p.m.

    This is very shocking to me because if the nail would have been one inch further he would have most likely lost his vision. I was amazed when the girl said that this happens all the time because of nail gun accidents.

  • jasmined-Koc
    5/21/2015 - 12:05 a.m.

    I could not even fathom having a nail stuck in my eye, but amazingly enough this guy was lucky enough to have not been seriously injured especially from a nail incident.

  • azaylag-Koc
    5/21/2015 - 02:37 a.m.

    I think he got injured buy it because it hit the bottom of the weed waker and it flew up and hit his eye. The man was lucky it didn't cause serious damage.

  • Enyam-Pav
    5/21/2015 - 09:56 a.m.

    Wow this is really a miracle! I am very surprised that he lived, that was his lucky day! I hope he lives a very long happy and healthy life.

  • Catherineh-Pav
    5/21/2015 - 09:58 a.m.

    Its crazy how that guy survived with the nail in his head. Many people survive things that normally wouldn't have been able to survive from. I don't know how he can survive this. I wouldn't be able to survive because I would be terrified and I would try to move it and I would do even more damage. When scary things happen to me or right in front of me I would be so scared and I would make the situation worse. It is really a miracle how he survived such a dramatic situation. This is so rare because many people would have died from all of the blood loss but he didn't therefore this is a miracle and he is a lucky man. He is lucky because he survived and decided to be strong and to not look at his situation and freak out and then he would die. He wanted to live and but wanting to live, he got to live.

  • ethanh-Gon
    5/21/2015 - 11:22 a.m.

    That's some Mortal Kombat stuff right there, shout out to Young Reptilias the 3rd. On a serious note I can't believe he survived this brutal accident.

  • raevynj-Koc
    5/21/2015 - 12:04 p.m.

    God was on this mans side. So many bad injuries could have come from this but thankfully he came out alive. I would have freaked out if I had been stabbed in the eye! Hopefully people are more careful now and wear protective gear to be safe.

  • eddiel-Gon
    5/21/2015 - 12:36 p.m.

    If I were the guy I wouldn't live through that guy should be glad that he survive it a miracle and his family didn't have to suffer. The worst part is they might take out the eye then there will be worst fates then death

  • zacharyhuyser.72
    5/21/2015 - 12:44 p.m.

    It is a miracle that the man survived and had no damage done to him. I have found on the internet that about 37,000 nail related injuries happen per year. Nails are very dangerous and should never be laying around in grass, or on the floor. It is still hard to believe this man survived a nail to the head, he is very lucky to be alive.

  • MarilynEngelhardt
    5/21/2015 - 12:47 p.m.

    I can't believe he survived with a nail in his head! I did some further research about how foreign objects can damage the eye and I found that the object would most likely damage your cornea or the conjunctiva. The cornea is a clear dome that covers the surface of the eye and is where light enters the eye. The conjunctiva is a thin mucous membrane that covers the white of your eye. I have heard of nails going into skulls, but never in the eye. I wonder how much damage could of been done if the nail landed in a different spot.

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