Man Learns Suspected Lung Tumour Is Playmobil Traffic Cone He Inhaled 40 Years Earlier

By Bryan Menegus on at

In many ways, the human body is a storage locker. For hopes and petty frustrations, for meat and way too many bones, and—as one 47-year-old British man recently discovered—sometimes even childhood toys you forgot you inhaled several decades ago.

Earlier this month, the BMJ published a case study describing the man’s medical odyssey titled “An airway traffic jam: a plastic traffic cone masquerading as bronchial carcinoma.” As its name suggests, the report concerns a suspected tumour that turned out to be a “long lost Playmobil traffic cone” the unnamed patient received as a birthday present at 7 years old.

After coming in over a persistent cough that had a troubled him for over a year, a cone-shaped mass was spotted in the man’s lungs via X-ray. Since he was a smoker, doctors initially suspected the mass to be a tumour until it was revealed to be a toy cleverly hidden to be played with later.

According to the BBC, the case study’s authors say the man’s “cough had almost gone and his symptoms had improved markedly” four months after the traffic cone was removed with a flexible bronchoscope.

The BBC did not disclose whether the cone—now apparently shellacked in cigarette tar—was part of a larger playset or if the man’s entire birthday present was a single Playmobil cone. [BMJ, BBC]

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