Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Man Shoots 3 Inch Nail Into His Brain and Lives

This is something you will hopefully never see on the next episode of This Old House, but in Oak Lawn, Illinois, a man accidentally shot a 3.25-inch nail into his head and lived to tell about it. The interesting thing is that he did not even know he had done this and thought he had just cut himself with the nail gun.

The man went to the hospital to get checked out, received an x-ray, and doctors showed him the above picture. He thought they were joking. The reason he did not realize what he had done is because the brain does not have any pain receptors. Many people do not know this but it is true. The pain receptors in the head are in the skull. The man did not even go to the hospital that day. In fact, he continued to do some snow plowing that day. The next day he awoke, felt nauseous, and went to the hospital.

Fortunately doctors were able to remove the nail after a two hour procedure in which they drilled two burr holes in his skull, later replacing the skull pieces with titanium mesh. He apparently did not suffer any serious effects of the injury or the surgery. Injuries to the brain like this are referred to as penetrating brain injuries. The more common example is a gunshot wound to head, but bullets are more dangerous because they break into multiple pieces once they enter the brain and also fracture the skull significantly. A good example of this was the case of Gabrielle Giffords who is permanently brain damaged and recently had to resign from Congress after being shot in the head by Jared Loughner. Nails on the other hand, have a smaller sharp tip and usually a shorter trajectory than bullets, so one would not break apart when entering the brain. I am glad this man got through this ok. Moral of the story is that if you use a nail gun, keep it away from your head!

Reference: The Associated Press

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