A 15-year-old boy came to the emergency department at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, complaining he had been coughing for three hours.Eventually, the teen admitted he had built a homemade blowgun using instructions he found on the Internet. Instead of exhaling to propel the dart, he accidentally inhaled, and the dart lodged in his lower airway.
In the August 2013 issue of Pediatrics, physicians report on this case and two similar ones seen within a three-month period. In all three cases, the boys found instructions for constructing blowgun darts online.
The study, “The Internet, Adolescent Males, and Homemade Blowgun Darts: A Recipe for Foreign Body Aspiration,” is published online July 22.
The study authors found more than 20 websites that describe how to make homemade blowgun darts, but few include adequate safety warnings. Prompt treatment can result in a good outcome for the patient, according to the authors, but serious complications could occur, especially given the hesitance of patients to divulge what caused their symptoms.