A 47-year-old British mailman went to a respiratory clinic after complaining of a persistent cough for over a year. Doctors scanned his lungs and found what looked like a tumor in one of his lungs.
The man was a long-time smoker, so doctors assumed this mass was bronchial carcinoma, or lung cancer. During the surgery to remove the mass, however, doctors were surprised to discover that it was a toy traffic cone that the man had inhaled by accident when he was 7-years-old.
The mailman later told doctors that he played with his Playmobil construction set regularly as a child and would often place the traffic cones in his mouth and even swallowed one by accident.
Clearly, on one of these occasions, he inhaled one of the traffic cones, and it lodged itself in one of his lungs. There it sat for 40 years until it began to cause irritation.
Ironically, instead of diverting traffic, the cone began to divert the air flowing in and out of the man’s lung. The detour the air took in his lung started to give the mailman respiratory issues prompting his visit to the doctor.
According to the medical case study published as a result of this rare occurrence, four months after the removal of the traffic cone, the patient’s condition had vastly improved, and his cough was nearly gone.