We were wrong: there IS something worse than a leech in your ear.

By Seriously Science | March 22, 2016 6:00 am
Image:Flickr/Mick Talbot

Image:Flickr/Mick Talbot

There was a time when we thought that there was nothing more nauseatingly horrifying than a leech infestation in one’s ear. But we were wrong. Very wrong. That’s because it turns out that one can have a leech living in one’s esophagus for months. That’s right. MONTHS. And this case report isn’t an isolated incident; it can happen to children and the elderly too. Pretty terrifying, although this time we won’t make any claims as to it being the worst thing in the world. We’ll just wait to see where else those lovely little suckers pop up next!

A rare case report of tracheal leech infestation in a 40-year-old woman.

“Leeches are the very rare types of airway foreign body. Here we report a rare case of a 40-year-old woman with tracheal leech infestation. A 40-year-old woman presented 2-month history of dyspnea, occasional haemoptysis. There were foreign body sensation in throat, cough and hoarseness. Computed Tomography (CT) revealed some soft tissue shadow in the upper trachea. Eventually a 5 cm long living leech was smoothly removed from trachea by rigid bronchoscopy under sevoflurane general anesthesia. The airway leech infestation should be kept in mind especially in patients presenting with unexplained haemoptysis, dyspnea, hoarseness and a foreign body sensation in the throat and a history of drinking infested water from streams, pools and spring. General anesthesia might be necessary for the removal of the leech.”

Related content:
NCBI ROFL: Nasal leech infestation: report of seven leeches and literature review.
NCBI ROFL: Superglue in the ear double feature: pros and cons.
NCBI ROFL: “Here’s egg in your eye”: a prospective study of blunt ocular trauma resulting from thrown eggs.

  • Crystal


  • Brian Bauer

    Thank you for the self-indulgent display of Latin terminology. I am sure all your doctor friends will be duly impressed!

    • LMarie

      Oh, just read a few more medical articles, and you won’t think twice about it any more. 😀

  • Dr Dave

    Surely this is not a common issue as the article might suggest. In 30++ years I have yet to see one. Although I have used medical leeches for decades the introduction of an accidental one is a bit gross and shocking. I think the worse part is not having anyone diagnose it for 2 MONTHS. Leeches have great capability in the recovery of tissue that lacks blood supply as the leeches will simply lock on and suck till they get a new supply started along with keeping the tissue alive in the process. Same goes for medical maggots but that is a whole different direct to take the thread. Hope you have all read this before eating lunch or dinner. Dr D


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Seriously, Science?, formerly known as NCBI ROFL, is the brainchild of two prone-to-distraction biologists. We highlight the funniest, oddest, and just plain craziest research from the PubMed research database and beyond. Because nobody said serious science couldn't be silly!
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