Weird Medicine

Keep Calm: Man Gets Impaled In The Neck By Tree Branch While Mountain Biking, Drives Himself To The Hospital

Cyclist Impaled
A cyclist in New Mexico was impaled in the neck by a tree branch, then drove himself to the hospital. The New England Journal of Medicine 2015

When you're riding your bike, the most terrifying accident you can have — traffic injuries aside — is probably as minimal as falling off and scraping your knee. A 40-year-old man was off-road biking in New Mexico when he flipped off of his bike. As he got up, he realized that he had a branch sticking out the side of his neck. Instead of sitting down, calling an ambulance, and waiting for it to arrive, however, the man drove himself 20 miles to the nearest hospital.

There, surgeons took a CT scan and found the branch had narrowly missed his windpipe and the carotid artery, which connects the brain to the heart. If either one had been impacted by the branch, it was unlikely that the man would’ve survived.

The branch was buried more than a half inch into the man’s neck. Speaking to LiveScience, the attending physician, Lev Deriy, said that the man was “lucky not to damage anything.”

So far, after having the branch removed and the hole stitched up, the man has suffered no further complications, his doctors said. He was also very wise not to remove the branch from his neck. Removing an impaled object in a panic could lead to extreme consequences, so doctors state that, if you ever find yourself in a similar situation, you should immediately go to a hospital.

"If you have something like that happen, it’s a good idea not to touch [the] foreign body," Deriy said.

Bikes have led to a few different impalements recently, like this woman in London whose leg was impaled by the brake lever when she flipped off her bike. Or this man in New York who hit a pothole, fell, and hit his head, then tried to get up and impaled his neck on a fence.

Another man was also impaled by a tree branch while cycling two years ago in the UK in nearly the same place as the man from New Mexico. He also survived the impaling and made a full recovery. 

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