Crohn’s disease patient had actually swallowed a Heinz sauce sachet

Robin De Peyer
Painful: the woman's condition was in fact caused by a Heinz sauce packet: Shutterstock

A woman who believed she had a serious bowel condition for six years had actually just swallowed a sauce sachet wrapper.

The 41-year-old patient had been receiving treatment for Crohn’s disease after complaining of acute abdominal pain and bloating.

Doctors at Heatherwood and Wexham Park Hospital, Slough, eventually decided surgery was the only option when the patient failed to respond to standard treatment, a case study in the British Medical Journal said.

But keyhole surgery found an inflamed mass in the small intestine, revealing two pieces of plastic packaging bearing the famous Heinz branding.

The plastic appeared to come from a sachet of sauce.

Once the packaging was removed the patient's symptoms were cured almost immediately, and she was still symptom-free five months after surgery.

She had no memory of consuming a meal involving the product found perforating the wall of her gut.

Doctors said it was the first case of ingested plastic packaging mimicking the symptoms of Crohn's disease.

"It is important to consider alternative surgical diagnoses in patients with presumed Crohn's disease unresponsive to standard treatment," the report said.