Doctors say cause of girl's stunted growth is two needles, one seven centimeters long, that had been lodged in her abdominal cavity at least eight years.
From Chengdu Commercial Daily:
On the afternoon of March 26, in the operating room of Huaxi Hospital of Sichuan University, surgeon Du Jingping removed two needles from the stomach of patient Li Li (name changed). The two needles had been in the girl's stomach for at least eight years, and one of them had pierced a 40-centimeter "tunnel" through her insides.
The 17-year-old Li Li looks like she's only 7 or 8 years old, but doctors expect that with the removal of the needles her growth will resume. But the question of how the two needles got inside her abdomen in the first place remains unanswered.
Li Li is only 1.2 meters tall and weighs only 21 kilograms, around the size of a 7 or 8-year-old child. One of her family members explained that Li Li went to the hospital last week with unbearable stomach pain, a recurring fever, and diarrhea. The symptoms rendered her completely unable to move. After performing a CT, the doctor discovered that Li Li had two needles in her stomach. One was lodged in her pelvic cavity, the other, longer one, was in the left side of her pelvis.
"The longer needle moved about on its own. Every time we checked, it had moved to a different place," said Du Jingping, adding that the shorter of the two needles was quite easy to remove, whereas the longer one took a much longer time.
On that morning, when the doctors gave Li Li a CT they noticed that the longer needle had moved down to her left thigh, but after they had cut her open, they were shocked to find that its location had once again shifted: It wasn't there! There were flabbergasted to discover an internal wound 40 centimeters long, 1 centimeter thick, and two centimeters in diameter. The needle had born a hard, pus-filled tunnel through her tissue. Du Jingping reckoned that the needle had worked at this passageway for an entire year, striking away at the tissue in Li Li's abdominal cavity little by little until the tunnel had been created. It was this passageway that allowed the needle to move freely between relatively distant body parts.
When the X-ray machine was brought over, it was determined that the longer needle had already moved to the upper left side of the abdominal cavity. With his surgical instruments, Du Jingping followed the needle's tunnel to pinpoint the needle's location. Fifteen centimeters later, it was located and extracted without a further hitch.
The reporter saw the needles: One was about 4 centimeters long, about the size of a sewing needles. The other was around 7 centimeters. Du Jingping said that after removing the two needles, he had inserted two tubes into the tunnel to allow the excess pus drain out.
"The needles had been in her stomach for at least eight years," said one of Li Li's relatives. Eight years earlier Li Li had come down with symptoms of a stomachache and the local hospital identified that there was indeed foreign matter in her abdominal cavity, but since the family could not afford the medical expenses, they did not pursue treatment.
But why does this 17-year-old girl look like she's only 7 or 8 years old? Prior to the operation, specialists in various departments at Huaxi Hospital consulted on the case. Their conclusion is that Li Li's stunted growth is the result of repeated infections at the site of the needles in her body. The wound created great quantities of pus, and constant diarrhea made her body unable to absorb nutrients very well. Based on a bone specialist's estimates, there is a good chance that Li Li will resume her growth. But as to how the needles got in there in the first place? Both Li Li and her family members say they have no idea.
EDIT: We erroneously wrote "millimeters," when it should, in fact, have been "centimeters."