Body-Packing: A Rare Diagnosis to Keep in Mind
  • Maria Joao Gomes
    Hospital Professor Doutor Fernando Fonseca, Amadora, Portugal
  • Ana João
    Hospital Professor Doutor Fernando Fonseca, Amadora, Portugal
  • Inês Bargiela
    Hospital Professor Doutor Fernando Fonseca, Amadora, Portugal


Body-packing, cocaine, gastrointestinal obstruction


Body packing was first described in 1973 and refers to the intracorporeal concealment of illegal drugs, which are swallowed or placed in anatomical cavities and/or body orifices. The body packer can be asymptomatic or can have signs of systemic drug toxicity (neurological, cardiac, abdominal, renal and cutaneous) due to rupture of the packet(s) or symptoms of gastrointestinal obstruction or perforation. The diagnosis is established based on a suggestive history, findings on physical examination and laboratory findings and/or imaging. The vast majority of patients are asymptomatic and are treated conservatively. However, complex situations may require surgical intervention. We present a case of a 50-year-old man who was admitted in the emergency department with a generalized tonic-clonic seizure and vomiting with plastic film, which raised the suspicion of foreign body ingestion, confirmed by imaging and laboratory tests. He underwent exploratory laparotomy to remove the packages.



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    Published: 2020-06-18
    Issue: 2020: Vol 7 No 9 (view)

    How to cite:
    Gomes MJ, João A, Bargiela I. Body-Packing: A Rare Diagnosis to Keep in Mind. EJCRIM 2020;7 doi:10.12890/2020_001750.

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