The medical journal Internal and Emergency Medicine is reporting on a case in which a 35-year old man tripping on phencyclidine (PCP) attempted to swallow his smartphone. The key word being "attempted."
When the man arrived at the emergency ward he was agitated but alert, "handling his secretions poorly" and in moderate respiratory distress. The electronic device, measuring 4 cm x 8 cm, was visibly protruding from his throat.
Emergency physicians immediately tried to remove the smartphone with forceps, but were unsuccessful. Escalating the case, a trauma code was announced, bringing in a surgical specialist and an anesthesiologist. The patient was relocated to an operating room and double prepped for both an emergency cricothyrotomy and oropharyngeal intubation. The smartphone was successfully removed without the need for surgical intervention, but a tear was noted at the back of his throat.
After the procedure the patient became "markedly agitated." And given the trauma, the doctors decided to intubate him for airway protection.
The diagnosis: A ruptured pharynx and bilateral pneumothoraces — an abnormal collection of air or gas in the space separating the lung from the chest wall that interferes with normal breathing. The patient was treated for seven days and discharged after two weeks.