Butter knife bad bet for do-it-yourself hernia repair, California man learns

butter knife, stock, 4x3 istockphoto

butter knife, 4x3
Flickr/Simon Doggett

(CBS/AP) Surgeons? Scalpels? Who needs 'em? A California man with a painful hernia sliced open his own belly with a butter knife in a bid at self-surgery.

It didn't quite work.

The wife of the 63-year-old Glendale man called paramedics on Sunday night and said her husband was using a knife to remove a protruding hernia, Sgt. Tom Lorenz said.  

"She said he had impaled himself with a knife," Lorenz said.

Officers found the man naked on a patio lounge chair outside his apartment with the 6-inch knife sticking out of his stomach. The man's wife told officers that her husband was upset about the hernia and wanted to take it out.

While waiting for paramedics, the sergeant said, the man pulled out the knife and stuffed a cigarette he was smoking into the bleeding, open wound. The unidentified man wasn't screaming or showing any signs of pain, the sergeant said.

"What he was thinking, I don't know," Lorenz said. "I don't know if he was cauterizing it (the wound). You just never know what to expect. I've seen self-mutilation, but not a maneuver like this."

Based on his actions and statements from the wife, Lorenz said the man was taken to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center - for a psychiatric evaluation.

Most people with hernias choose outpatient over DIY surgery. Some surgeons perform so-called open surgery, making the necessary incision with a scalpel. Others perform mininimally invasive surgery, which makes use of a thin lighted tube known as a laparoscope.

But butter knives? Not so much.

WebMD has more on hernia surgery.

  • David W Freeman

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