U of Kansas surgeons save life of boy impaled in head by meat skewer

Physicians at Kansas City-based University of Kansas Health System operated on a 10-year-old boy after a foot-long meat skewer impaled his head in a  Sept. 8 accident, according to The Kansas City Star.

Xavier Cunningham fell from a tree house after being stung by yellow jackets. He landed on a metal skewer, which pierced his face and penetrated the back of his skull.

Xavier initially arrived at Children's Mercy Kansas City (Mo.) and was transferred to The University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, where he was treated by Koji Ebersole, MD, director of endovascular neurosurgery at The University of Kansas Health.

"This thing had spared the eye, spared the brain, spared the spinal cord," Dr. Ebersole told The Kansas City Star. "You couldn't draw it up any better. It was one in a million for it to pass 5 or 6 inches through the front of the face to the back and not have hit these things."

The skewer also missed major blood vessels in Xavier's neck. After scans showed no active bleeding, physicians decided to wait to remove the skewer until the next morning, on Sept. 9, so necessary personnel could participate in the procedure.

The meat skewer had square edges, which added to the hazards of the surgical team removing it from Xavier's skull. If the team twisted the skewer, it could cause severe damage. Ultimately, the surgical team successfully pulled out the skewer. They said Xavier could make a complete recovery.

Dr. Ebersole called Xavier's case "miraculous."

"I have not seen anything passed to that depth in a situation that was survivable, let alone one where we think the recovery will be near complete, if not complete," he told The Kansas City Star.

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