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Worker Survives Brain Skewer by Bar

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

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A Brazilian construction worker is recovering remarkably quickly after being impaled through the brain by an iron bar that fell from five stories up on a job site.

Eduardo Leite, 24, was working Aug. 15 on a construction site in Rio de Janeiro when the bar fell from five stories above, pierced the back of his hard hit, penetrated his skull and a major part of his brain, and ended up sticking out between his eyes.

 Tomography scans show the skull of construction worker Eduardo Leite after it was pierced by a metal bar.

 Photos: Miguel Couto Hospital

Tomography scans released Aug. 16 by Miguel Couto Hospital show the skull of construction worker Eduardo Leite after it was pierced by a metal bar in Rio de Janeiro.

The bar was removed in a delicate five-hour surgical procedure, and Leite was reportedly eating normally and in little pain the next day.

“It really was a miracle,” said Dr. Luiz Essinger, chief of staff at Rio’s Miguel Couto Hospital, where the surgery was performed.

‘As If Nothing Had Happened’

Incredibly, Leite did not even lose consciousness after the accident.

His wife, Lilian Regina da Silva Costa, told one reporter that she couldn’t believe her husband had survived after seeing a picture taken in the ambulance by the surgeon on his mobile phone. The photo showed her husband awake with the bar through his head.

She said: “He was lying down with the bar pointing upwards, and he was holding the metal with his face covered in blood, and his look was as if nothing had happened.

“When he arrived he told the doctors he wasn’t feeling anything, no pain, nothing. Nothing, nothing, nothing. It’s unbelievable.”

‘Transfixed the Brain’

Essinger said, “The impressive thing is that he arrived at the hospital awake and told me what had happened to him.

“He told me he was kneeling down handling tools on the construction site where he worked when a metal bar fell from the fifth floor. He still hasn’t told me about the moment of the impact.”

 Dr. Luiz Essinger, hospital chief of staff
“The impressive thing is that he arrived at the hospital awake and told me what had happened to him,” said Dr. Luiz Essinger, hospital chief of staff.

The doctor explained, “This metal bar entered the skull through the posterior and lateral part of the brain, perforated the bone, transfixed the entire brain—we call it the core—and exited through the anterior part in between the two eyes.”


In surgery, doctors opened Leite’s skull, examined the brain, and “decided to pull the metal bar out from the front in the same direction it entered the brain,” Essinger said.

Leite was lucid and showed no negative consequences after the operation.

“Today, he continues well, with few complaints for a five-hour-long surgery,” Essinger said a day after the surgery. “He says he feels little pain.”

Centimeters Away

Ruy Monteiro, the hospital’s head of neurosurgery, told the Globo TV network that Leite had come within centimeters of losing an eye and becoming paralyzed on the left side of his body.

He said the bar had entered a “non-eloquent” area of the brain—an area that does not affect speech and motor function.

Leite is expected to remain hospitalized for at least two weeks.

Surgeons are cautiously optimistic about Leite’s chances of making a good recovery. He can eat and move his arms and legs. Surgeons remain hyper-vigilant about preventing infection.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Construction; Health and safety; Personal protective equipment

Comment from Mike McCloud, (8/22/2012, 7:56 AM)

So, a Brazilian walks into a bar......oh no, thats for Flaking Off...

Comment from Tom Cahill, (8/22/2012, 8:36 AM)

Scientific American, about a decade ago, had a major a article on these types of injuries. The SA article included 100 years of photos of mining blast injuries that looked very similar to the photo in this article above and symptoms almost exactly as described above. Sadly among those injured there was a number whose personalities changed very profoundly. I hope these doctors are reviewing the literature and will counsel the injured man's family to be prepared for what is viewed as a deep shift in psychological make up. It will manifest in 2 years if we are to go by the SA article.

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