You really do have to see it to believe it: an X-ray released in the New England Journal of Medicine shows what one woman’s doctor was surprised to find—a screw from a dental implant lodged in her sinus cavity.

The patient was a 57-year old Italian woman who complained of sinus headaches. The cause was a 0.79 inch long metal screw that had originally been implanted into her upper jaw bone to hold a false tooth in place in 2011, a common procedure known as dental implants.

The tooth had fallen out, and her gums had healed. Dentists believed all to be well, as it is normal for the gums to seal over the implanted screw. Two years later, her sinus pain had reached a point that she sought professional help, where a surprised doctor found the culprit.

With invasive surgery, the screw was removed, and unsurprisingly, her symptoms disappeared.

Image Credit: The New England Journal of Medicine (2013)

By Ramie A. Tritt, M.D., President, Atlanta ENT