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: 1040L

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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. 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. 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. No major bleeding occurred. 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 22 times

  • adamt-Gon
    5/21/2015 - 11:10 a.m.

    Oh that's kinda cool I saw a show where this guy put a hole in his head from an explosion and he survived it was so cool omg pizza.

  • mattv-fel
    8/10/2015 - 02:13 p.m.

    The landscaper was injured by a nail because he was weedeating the grass, and hit the nail, flinging it into his right eye socket.

  • kolbyd-fel
    8/10/2015 - 02:13 p.m.

    because the weed whacker hit a nail not anything else.

  • ethanw-fel
    8/10/2015 - 02:14 p.m.

    because he was using a weed whacker and hit a nail

  • coled-fel
    8/10/2015 - 02:14 p.m.

    CTC: The nail was hidden within the weeds in his garden or yard.

  • elizabetht-fel
    8/10/2015 - 02:14 p.m.

    Because, if he hit it with the weedwacker, it would have become a projectile flying object. Thus it may hit him in any place that it could have possibly gone. He could have had the skull penetrated or even a major organ ruptured.

  • garretta-fel
    8/10/2015 - 02:15 p.m.

    CTC: The landscaper was hit by a nail because he was weed-whacking and hit the nail.Therefore knocking the nail directly into his eye.

  • travisb-fel
    8/10/2015 - 02:15 p.m.

    CTC: He hit the nail with the weed eater

  • kyleighp-fel
    8/10/2015 - 02:15 p.m.

    The landscaper was injured by the nail because it was the only thing could probably do any real damage. A stone would've just bounced off of him,a stick would have just slapped him. A nail,however, is pointed and is made to penetrate wood, so going through flesh is no big deal.

  • madisonh-fel
    8/10/2015 - 02:16 p.m.

    The landscaper was injured by a nail, because that's what he hit.

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