FishBone In Your Intestines

Nobody would be willing to swallow a fishbone, but unfortunately, it does happen because small, sharp fish bones are easy to miss.

Fishbones can cause injury, and it is natural for a person who accidentally swallows one to seek medical attention. But before you panic, here is my research about what will happen when you eat a fishbone.

Can a fishbone get stuck in your intestines? Yes, but there is only a 1% possibility for this rare case. When a fish bone gets stuck in your intestines, you will feel tenderness and pain in your abdomen. If this is your case, seek medical help immediately.

Know the things you should do when you swallow a fishbone below. But before that, you might want to learn about the incident when a man accidentally swallowed a yellowtail amberjack’s fishbone.

Spoiler alert! Yellowtail Amberjack is a big fish.

A Man Accidentally Swallowed A Fish Bone

A fishbone may get stuck in your intestines. There once was an incident when a man accidentally swallowed a small fishbone, not only getting stuck in his intestine but tore a hole in it.

At the time of the incident, the man was a 73-year-old living in Japan. After suddenly feeling severe pain in the lower part of his abdomen, he was brought to the emergency room.

While the man is undergoing the physical exam, he has a slight fever and tenderness across his lower abdomen. The man said that the day before he felt the pain, he had eaten a yellowtail fish.

Yellowtail Amberjack is popular in Japanese cuisine. It is a large fish that is usually prepared as steamed, grilled, and many more.

The CT scan result of the man’s abdomen shows that “a linear, high-density body” punctured his small intestine. To put it simply, there is an object that looked like a small bone was stuck in his intestine.

The doctors found a 2cm long fishbone pierced straight through his small intestine during the surgery. Doctors have to remove part of his small intestine to treat the issue.

The doctors also gave him antibiotics to avoid any possible infections due to having a hole in the bowel.

Kochi Medical School doctors in Nankoku, Japan, say that after the treatment, the man recovered well, and after eight days, he left the hospital.

The Risk Of Swallowing Fish Bone

As mentioned earlier, no one wants to swallow a fishbone, but it happens. It is also rare that an eaten foreign body causes a tear in the intestine.

According to a paper published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology in 2014, there are less than 1% of the torn intestine due to ingested foreign bodies.

Fishbones might also have an elongated shape and sharp end, but they usually pass through the gastrointestinal tract without causing such tears.

The Indian Journal of Radiology and Imaging published a paper in 2011 saying that the most common problem associated with ingested fishbone is that they get stuck in the throat.

Meanwhile, people wearing dentures are more likely to swallow fish bones. The reason is that they may experience difficulty feeling the bones in their mouth while having a meal.

Children, individuals who are intoxicated while eating fish, and adults also have a higher risk of swallowing fish bones.

If you want to lower the risk of swallowing fish bones, buy fillets. Fillets have fewer bones to no fish bones at all. Eating slowly and taking small bites also helps to reduce the risk of this frightening incident.

What To Do If You Swallow A Fish Bone?

Here are the things you should do when you accidentally swallow a fishbone:

Relax, Don’t Panic

Once you accidentally swallowed a fishbone, calm yourself. You don’t have to see a doctor immediately. First, feel if the fishbone is not scratching your throat on the way down.

If so, you won’t encounter any further problems. The fishbone will naturally be removed from the body through digestion.

When Feeling Pain

If there is a pain in your throat, it might indicate that you were scratched. It is different when a fishbone is stuck in your throat because you will feel fullness at the base of your neck when it does.

Some people accidentally swallow fishbone that scratches the back of their throat. The fishbone might not get stuck in their throat, but they confuse the pain left by the scratch as fishbone.

For this reason, they desperately try to get something out of their throats.

When a fishbone scratches the throat, it leaves a sensation that something is stuck in there. But the truth is that there is nothing in there.

After a few days, the affected area will heal, and they will feel fine and better.

When To See A Doctor

When the pain in your throat lingers, the scratch might be infected. The fishbone scratches the uvula in rare cases, the flesh hanging above the throat, getting it infected.

Antibiotics are capable of treating the infection in your throat, resolving the pain.

Seek immediate medical attention when there is tenderness on your neck’s base, specifically at the top of your sternum.

If you can’t get water and food to stay down, there is also a possibility that a fishbone gets lodged in your throat. In this case, you will need a gastroenterologist’s help to remove the fishbone, causing the blockage.


To summarize, there might be a rare possibility of fishbone getting stuck in the intestine, but it is still possible.

So, make sure to eat slowly and supervise your children when eating fish. It is also best if you don’t eat fish if you are intoxicated.

Please note the tips I have mentioned above to be ready in unfortunate events like swallowing a small fishbone. Accidentally swallowing a fishbone is frightening, yet, it is best to stay calm when it happens. This way, you can take the best actions.