A woman believed she was suffering from Crohn’s disease for six years until doctors performed surgery and discovered a ketchup packet in the lining of her intestine.
The 41-year-old patient had symptoms consistent with the serious bowel disease — including acute abdominal pain and bloating lasting up to three days — but she did not respond to the standard treatments, according to a report in the British Medical Journal.
Doctors at Heatherwood and Wexham Park Hospital in Slough eventually opted for surgery where they uncovered the root of the patient’s pain: two, small foreign objects had pierced the woman’s intestine and left it inflamed.
“The mass was mobilized where it was found to contain two pieces of plastic bearing the word ‘Heinz’ on them,” the report said.
The doctors removed the plastic ketchup wrappers and the symptoms dissipated almost immediately. She’s remained in good condition since the surgery.
The woman said she had no memory of eating the sachet of sauce nor a meal where she may have mistakenly done so.
“It is important to consider alternatives surgical diagnoses in patients with presumed Crohn’s disease unresponsive to standard treatment,” the report noted, citing a similar case involving a 35-year-old man who believed he had Crohn’s disease until surgery revealed his symptoms were caused by a toothpick.
Still, doctor’s said the case marks the first time “synthetic plastic packaging” mimicked symptoms of the life-altering disease.