Field of Science

TMI Friday: Taking it to third base ..literally

The variety of foreign bodies in the rectum tests a surgeon's ingenuity to solve a myriad of geometric puzzles
So begins Major PT Mcdonald's  1976 paper, in which he has to deal with a  patient with a somewhat unique problem.
The patient, a 49 year old baseball fan, who had serious trouble with his bowels ever since the Oakland A's won the world series in 1974. The doctors examined him, and noticed
 " a firm, fixed, round object barely palpable which was lodged high in the rectum"
It was a baseball. To celebrate the Oakland A's victory, he had his sexual partner force the hardball up his rectum, where it got lodged. Unable to get any purchase on the surface of the ball, retrieval seemed impossible.
Thus it was left to the surgeon to figure out how to get the ball out. They drained the man's bladder using a catheter to take some of the pressure off the baseball. They tried to hook the ball, and drag it out as you would a particularly large fish. But this anal fishing expedition was for naught, as they only managed to rip some of the skin from the baseball.
They then decided that perhaps a better way of extracting the ball was through using obstetrics forceps. For those of you who don't know, these are generally used to deliver babies. So they pumped a little bit of air around the baseball, and tried to use the forceps to grab the ball.
It didn't work. They realised what the problem was. The baseball had travelled up through the pelvic arches, and after it had done so, it had become swollen with fluid, and become lodged in the pelvis.
It was a dire situation. The surgeon decided to cut into the man's abdomen to get access to the baseball. It was still stuck fast, and he needed to get some grip on the surface. So he skewered the baseball with a corkscrew, and tried to use it to pull it out. It still wasn't enough.  So he got an assistant to stick their fingers up the patients arse from the other end whilst also pulling on the corkscrew, and with " a force enough to lift the patient off the table", popped the baseball out.

McDonald M.P.T. & Rosenthal C.D. (1977). An unusual foreign body in the rectum—A baseball report of a case, Diseases of the Colon & Rectum, 20 (1) 56-57. DOI:

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