1st Color X-Rays of Human Body Are Bloody Amazing

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1st Color X-Rays of Human Body Are Bloody Amazing

Stunning new color X-ray images, from a company called Mars Bioimaging, in New Zealand, seem to make flesh and bone translucent and hyperreal.

A scan of an ankle rotates in this GIF.

A scan of an ankle rotates in this GIF.

Credit: Mars Bioimaging

The gif above shows one of the company’s strange and fascinating images: a slice of human ankle, with off-white, rugged bones, bloody-looking muscle tissue and a pad of fat smeared protectively under the heel with a whipped-cream texture.

This image shows a wrist with more muscle, less visible bone, almost no fat and a clearly-articulated watch:

It’s important to note that these aren’t “true-color” X-ray scans as most people would commonly understand the term. As the inventors of the sensor that was used to make these images described in a 2015 paper in the journal IEEE Transactions on Medical Imaging and on the company’s website, the colors in these images are applied based on the computer’s detection of different wavelengths of X-rays passing through different substances. There are, however, no “true” red X-rays or “true” white X-rays; the device’s programmers assign different colors to different detected body parts. (What human brains interpret as color comes from different wavelengths of light in the visual spectrum bouncing off objects. Visible light is also a form of electromagnetic radiation but is lower-energy than X-ray light.)

To successfully distinguish muscle, fat and bone, Mars Bioimaging developed sensors that could fit inside computed tomography (CT) scanners (circular X-ray devices that produce three-dimensional X-ray images) and produce very detailed information about the wavelengths of individual X-ray photons that pass through and bounce off human tissue. By sensing the wavelengths that disappear after passing through a particular bit of tissue, the device makes a judgement about what chemicals make up that tissue and uses that information to figure out what sort of tissue it was. The photon-counting technology, the company says in its marketing materials, was originally developed as part of its founders’ work with CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, which operates the world’s largest atom smasher.

By matching those scans with details about how different chemical compounds interact with X-ray light, they were able to distinguish different compounds in X-ray scans, the researchers wrote in the 2015 study. To produce these new grody, gorgeous color images of living tissue, they simply tasked the computer with painting the different compounds of fat, bone and muscle different colors.

The benefit for researchers, the company claims in its marketing materials, isn’t so much the fascinating visuals (though that’s a plus) as it is the wealth of precise chemical data on objects in the scanner. The careful, multilayered tissue scans, they write, will enable new precision in medical research.

Originally published on Live Science.


A Woman Had Strange Feelings in Her Legs. Doctors Found Parasites in Her Spine

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A Woman Had Strange Feelings in Her Legs. Doctors Found Parasites in Her Spine

A Woman Had Strange Feelings in Her Legs. Doctors Found Parasites in Her Spine

An MRI revealed tapeworm larval cysts in the woman’s spine, indicated by the arrow in the image on the left. The image on the right shows a close-up.

Credit: The New England Journal of Medicine ©2018

This article was updated on July 12.

When the 35-year-old woman arrived at a hospital in France, she told doctors it felt like electric shocks were running down her legs. What’s more, she felt weak and had experienced a number of falls recently.

The woman’s unusual symptoms turned out to have a surprising cause: Tapeworm larvae lurking in her spine, according to a new report of the case, published today (July 11) in The New England Journal of Medicine.

The woman lived in France and told doctors that she hadn’t been out of the country recently. But she said she did ride horses and have contact with cattle. In addition to her other symptoms, the woman said that over the last three months, she’d had difficulty riding her horse, according to the report.

An MRI revealed a lesion on her spine, at her ninth thoracic vertebra, which is located in the middle of the back, the report said. [8 Awful Parasite Infections That Will Make Your Skin Crawl]

The woman needed surgery to remove the lesion, and tests revealed that it was caused by an infection with Echinococcus granulosus, a small tapeworm that’s found in dogs and some farm animals, including sheep, cattle, goats and pigs.

This tapeworm can cause a disease called cystic echinococcosis, also known as hydatidosis, in which the larvae form cysts that grow slowly in a person’s body, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

These cysts typically grow in the liver or the lungs, but they can also appear in other parts of the body, including the bones and the central nervous system. However, infections of the bones, including the spinal column, are rare, making up just 0.5 to 4 percent of cases of this disease, according to a 2013 paper on cystic echinococcosis.

The life cycle of Echinococcus granulosus is somewhat complex: The “adult” form of the worm lives in the intestines of dogs and can grow to be 6 millimeters (0.2 inches) long, according to the CDC. Tapeworm eggs are passed in the dogs’ stool, and other farm animals become infected when they ingest food or water that’s contaminated with the tapeworm eggs. Once ingested by farm animals, the eggs develop into larvae, but they cannot develop into adult worms until they are again ingested by dogs (which can happen if dogs are fed slaughtered livestock, according to the CDC.)

Humans become infected with Echinococcus granulosus when they ingest the tapeworm eggs, which can happen if people consume food or water that’s contaminated with stool from infected dogs, according to the CDC. For example, a person might become infected if they consumed plants or berries gathered from fields where infected dogs have been. Humans are considered “accidental” hosts, because they aren’t involved in transmitting the disease back to dogs, according to the World Health Organization. (The worms can’t grow into adults in humans.)

Dr. Lionel Piroth, an infectious-disease specialist at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Dijon, who treated the woman, said that cystic echinococcosis “is very rare in France,” and it wasn’t clear how the woman got the infection. She did not report having any contact with dogs, he said.

One possibility is that the woman could’ve gotten sick by eating vegetables that were contaminated with the parasite, Piroth told Live Science. (If this were the case, the vegetables would’ve been contaminated by an “unknown” dog, he noted.) Adding to the mystery, the woman was the only one in her family to be infected.

In addition to surgery, the woman was treated with an anti-parasitic medication. Nine months later, she had no lingering symptoms of her infection or signs that it was coming back, the report said.

Editor’s Note: This article was updated on July 12 to add comments from Dr. Piroth.

Original article on Live Science.

Bladder: Facts, Function & Diseases

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Bladder: Facts, Function & Diseases

Bladder: Facts, Function & Diseases

Two long tubes called ureters connect the bladder, which stores urine, to the kidneys, which produce urine.

Credit: Nerthuz | Shutterstock

The bladder is a round, bag-like organ that stores urine. It is located in the pelvic area, just below the kidneys and right behind the pelvic bone. While it is basically a fleshy storage tank, it is very complex in its design.

The bladder is typically the size of a large grapefruit, according to the Weill Cornell Medical College. It can stretch much larger when needed, though, and shrinks back when it is empty. In fact, it can hold around 16 ounces (almost half a liter) of urine at one time for two to five hours comfortably, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM).

It is normal to urinate around six to eight times in a 24-hour period, according to the Cleveland Clinic. More frequent trips to the bathroom may indicate a problem with the bladder, though it is common to urinate more as one ages.

The bladder is connected to the kidneys by two long tubes called ureters. When urine is produced by the kidneys, it travels down the ureters to the bladder, where it is stored. The bladder has four layers.

From the inside out, the epithelium is the first layer on the inside of the bladder. It acts as a lining for the bladder. The lamina propria is the next layer. It consists of connective tissue, muscle and blood vessels. Wrapped around the lamina propria is the layer called the muscularis propria or detrusor muscle. According to John Hopkins Pathology, this layer consists of thick, smooth muscle bundles. The final, outer layer is the perivesical soft tissue, which is made up of fat, fibrous tissue and blood vessels.

The other parts of the bladder are located at the bottom of the sack. An opening at the bottom of the bladder is connected to the urethra. A circular, muscular sphincter pinches tight to keep the opening and the urethra from leaking urine.

When a person urinates, the detrusor muscles contract to squeeze the urine out of the bladder while the sphincter relaxes to open the opening of the bladder and urethra. The opening at the bottom of the bladder empties urine into the urethra, where it then empties from the body.

Many diseases and conditions can originate in the bladder. “The most common bladder problems I see in my practice in women are frequent urges to urinate and leakage of urine,” said S. Adam Ramin, urologic surgeon and founder of Urology Cancer Specialists in Los Angeles, California. Leakage and frequent urges often are caused by the decreased capacity of the bladder and overactivity of the bladder. An overactive bladder can be caused by a wide range of conditions, including constipation and excess caffeine in the system, according to the Mayo Clinic. Leakage of urine, or incontinence,can also be caused by bladder spasms or stress. A bladder sling is sometimes used to treat stress urinary incontinence.

“The most common bladder problems in men are frequent urination at nights and incomplete bladder emptying. This is usually due to an enlarged prostate causing obstruction of bladder emptying,” Ramin told Live Science.

Bladder infections may be another cause of frequent urination. Bladder infections, also called cystitis, are among the most common bacterial infections, according to Harvard Health. Around one-third of all females get a bladder infection at least once. Some of the symptoms include burning or pain during urination, needing to urinate a lot though only a small amount of urine is passed each time, sudden needs to urinate, lower abdomen pain and cloudy or bloody urine.

Another problem that can originate in the bladder is bladder cancer. About 577,400 people in the United States live with bladder cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute. It typically affects older people, though younger people have been known to develop bladder cancer, according to the Mayo Clinic. Some symptoms of bladder cancer include blood in the urine, frequent or painful urination and back or pelvic pain.

An anterior prolapse, also called a prolapsed bladder or cystocele, is a bladder problem specific to females. It happens when the tissue between a woman’s bladder and vaginal wall weakens due to a strain. The weakening allows the tissue to stretch and the bladder bulges into the vagina, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Bladder stones are caused by concentrated urine that crystalizes in the bladder. Typically, people who have problems emptying their bladder have problems with bladder stones, according to the Mayo Clinic. Though many bladder stones are so small they can barely be seen with the human eye, one man was found to have an egg-shaped bladder stone that weighed 1.7 lbs. (770 grams) and measured 4.7 inches by 3.7 inches by 3 inches (12 by 9.5 by 7.5 centimeters). This isn’t the largest bladder stone on record, though. The largest bladder stone was 7 inches long, 5 inches thick and 3.7 inches tall (17.9 by 12.7 by 9.5 cm), and weighed 4.2 lbs. (1.9 kg), according to Guinness World Records. [Related: This Man’s Bladder Stone Was Almost as Big as an Ostrich Egg]

Sometimes, there is no choice but to hold urine, but it may not be good for the bladder. “Holding your urine for a short period of time, usually up to one hour, is typically okay,” Ramin said. “However, protracted and repeated holding of urine may cause over-expansion of bladder capacity, transmission of excess pressure into the kidneys, and the inability to completely empty the bladder. These problems in turn may lead to UTI [urinary tract infection], cystitis and deterioration of kidney function.”

Drinking plenty of water throughout the day can also help prevent bladder stones by preventing the concentration of minerals that cause the stones. The Mayo Clinic suggests asking a medical profession about how much water the body needs according to age, size and activity level.

Editor’s Note: If you’d like more information on this topic, we recommend the following book:

How Do You Die from Hepatitis A?

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How Do You Die from Hepatitis A?

How Do You Die from Hepatitis A?

Credit: Shutterstock

A woman in Australia died after eating frozen pomegranate seeds that were linked to an outbreak of hepatitis A, health officials announced this week.

The 64-year-old woman’s death is the first in the hepatitis A outbreak tied to pomegranate seeds that has sickened 24 people in Australia, according to SA Health, the public health system in South Australia. Although the product tied to the outbreak — packets of Creative Gourmet’s frozen pomegranate arils — was recalled two months ago, it can take up to seven weeks for people to show symptoms of the viral illness after they’ve been infected, SA Health said in a June 5 statement.

But how do you die from a hepatitis A infection?

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The virus attacks and destroys liver cells, said Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, who was not involved in the Australia case. The vast majority of people with hepatitis A have only mild symptoms and recover completely from the infection without incurring lasting damage to their liver, he said. [27 Devastating Infectious Diseases]

But a small proportion of people, about 1 in every 250 people with hepatitis A (0.4 percent), develop life-threatening complications from the infection, such as liver failure, according to the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS).

People who die from a hepatitis A infection usually have an underlying liver disease, such as an infection with the virus hepatitis B or C, or alcoholic liver disease, that already caused damage to their liver.

“If you have hepatitis C and are infected with hepatitis A on top of that, that could lead to a fatal infection,” Adalja told Live Science. It’s unclear, however, if the woman in Australia had an underlying liver disease.

Several recent U.S. outbreaks of hepatitis A, which have affected primarily the homeless population and illicit-drug users, have had relatively high death rates. For example, an outbreak in Michigan has been linked with 838 cases of illness and 27 deaths since August 2018, meaning the death rate is 3.2 percent, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. This higher death rate may be because this population has higher rates of both hepatitis C and alcoholic liver disease, Adalja said.

Liver damage can be fatal because the liver is “one of the most vital organs that you have,” Adalja said. It’s responsible for many functions, including clearing toxins from the body and making compounds that help blood clot.

Because people with underlying liver disease are at higher risk for complications from hepatitis A, it’s very important that they be vaccinated against hepatitis A virus, Adalja said.

Symptoms of hepatitis A infection usually don’t appear until two to six weeks after a person has been infected, and include fever, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, dark-yellow urine, joint pain and jaundice (a yellowing of the skin and eyes), according to the CDC.

Original article on Live Science.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Symptoms and Treatment

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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Symptoms and Treatment

Carpal tunnel syndrome generally starts with nighttime numbness or tingling, and pain in the hand.

Credit: Image Point Fr | Shutterstock

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a nerve-related condition that causes pain and numbness in the wrists and hands. It affects three times as many women as men, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). It’s primarily seen in adults, especially those who perform assembly-line-type work. Such workers are three times more likely to get carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) than those who perform desk work, according to the NINDS.

Recently, research have found that using devices such as phones, gaming consoles, computers and tablets, can cause CTS in students, as well. Young adults who spent an average of nine hours a day using electronic devices reported more pain in their wrists and hands than their peers who spent less time each day using such devices, according to findings published online in the journal Muscle & Nerve. This puts them at more risk of developing CTS. [Related: Too Much Tech Tied to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome]

The carpal tunnel is a passageway in the wrist that protects the median nerve, the main nerve to the hand; the flexor tendons that bend the fingers and thumb; and other soft tissues, such as ligaments and blood vessels. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons(AAOS), carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the tissues surrounding the flexor tendons swell and put pressure on the median nerve. This pressure can then pinch the nerve, causing the pain associated with CTS.

Carpal tunnel syndrome can have many causes. The most likely cause, according to the AAOS, is heredity. Some people simply have smaller carpal tunnels, and this trait runs in families. Other contributing factors, according to NINDS, include:

  • Trauma or injury to the wrist that causes swelling, such as sprain or fracture
  • Overactivity of the pituitary gland
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Work stress
  • Repeated use of vibrating hand tools
  • Fluid retention during pregnancy or menopause
  • Development of a cyst or tumor in the canal

NINDS says there is little clinical data to prove that repetitive and forceful movements of the hand and wrist during work or leisure activities can cause carpal tunnel syndrome. Repeated motions performed at work or in sports have been associated with other disorders, such as bursitis and tendonitis. Repetitive activity may also bring on writer’s cramp, or spasms in the muscles of the hand that make holding a pen or pencil difficult.

Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome generally start with nighttime numbness or tingling, along with hand pain, according to Dr. Shari Liberman, a hand and upper extremity orthopedic surgeon at Houston Methodist Hospital. “Usually, the patient will wake up at night with those symptoms and has to shake out their hands to relieve the pain. The symptoms can progress to daytime numbness or tingling and pain.” Those affected with these symptoms should see a physician, Liberman told Live Science.

These sensations may appear when the individual holds an object, such as a book. As the condition worsens, pain may extend beyond the wrist all the way up to the shoulder, or into the hand. “When the carpal tunnel compression is severe, the patient will begin to experience weakness in the affected hand,” Liberman said. Sometimes pain may be misinterpreted as CTS. Sprains, arthritis and other problems may be the actual cause of the pain, which makes it important to get a diagnosis from a professional.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is fairly common and affects 4 to 10 million Americans, according to the American College of Rheumatology.

To diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome, a physician will first perform a physical exam. After checking the feeling and strength in the hand, the doctor may also want to perform additional tests to rule out any other conditions. These exams can include an EMG or nerve conduction velocity test, according to John Hopkins University.

An EMG is also called a myogram or an electromyography. This test measures the electrical output of muscles. The doctor places a tiny needle into particular muscles, and this needle detects the electrical activity of the muscles.

A nerve conduction velocity study tests the speed of electrical impulses in the nerves. Two electrodes are placed on the surface of the skin, and a shock is sent to the nerve. The speed is determined by how long it takes the impulses to travel between electrodes. This test is also called an electroneurography or EneG.

For mild cases of carpal tunnel syndrome, surgery is usually not necessary. CTS will get worse without some form of treatment, according to the AAOS, but it can be stopped if caught in the early stages.

Over-the-counter medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs (aspirin, ibuprofen and diclofenac, for example), can alleviate pain related to inflammation. Physicians may also inject a corticosteroid such as prednisone into the carpal tunnel for pain relief.

If an underlying condition causes the carpal tunnel syndrome, treatment of that condition can often reduce carpal tunnel symptoms.

Severe cases may require surgery, but patients can try other treatments first. “There are minimally invasive treatments, such as needle-thread ultrasound-guided release, that have a down time of only one evening,” Dr. Nathan Wei, director of the Arthritis Treatment Center in Frederick, Maryland, told Live Science. Surgery has a high success rate, over 90 percent, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Surgery options include endoscopic and open surgery, according to the Mayo Clinic. Endoscopic surgery involves making two small incisions on the ligament that is pressing on the nerve. Open surgery involves opening up the area with a large incision to cut the ligament.

By itself, exercising the affected area is not likely to relieve the pain and should not replace other treatments, said Dr. Peter C. Amadio, of the Mayo Clinic. Liberman agreed, adding that exercises can even exacerbate the symptoms. “Specifically, biking and weightlifting put pressure on the carpal tunnel and can make the symptoms worse,” she said. “I recommend a nighttime splint to keep the wrist in a neutral position to allow the pressure on the carpal tunnel to decrease.”

Other forms of treatment, such as yoga, occupational therapy and ultrasound therapy, can be integrated into a regular health plan to help patients deal with the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, according to the Mayo Clinic.

There are several ways to reduce the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome. Here are some tips from the University of Maryland Medical Center:

  • Take breaks from activities that strain the wrist, and bend the wrist every so often.
  • Adjust the work area to prevent strain on joints. Individuals who type as part of their profession should keep the keyboard at elbow height or lower so the wrist is relaxed during work.
  • Watch your posture at work. Keep the shoulders back to avoid straining neck and shoulder muscles, which can eventually cause problems in the wrists and hands.
  • Exercise the joints, which can build muscle that will protect the carpal tunnel areas from damage.
  • Use the appropriate force when performing tasks such as writing or typing. In other words, don’t grip the pen tightly or bang the keys on the keyboard. This puts unnecessary stress on the wrist and hand.
  • Use ergonomic tools that can put less pressure on your joints.

This article is for informational purposes only, and is not meant to offer medical advice.

Additional resources

Baby’s Feet Outside Mom’s Uterus: Amazing Image Shows Rare Rupture

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Baby’s Feet Outside Mom’s Uterus: Amazing Image Shows Rare Rupture

This image, taken using magnetic resonance imaging, shows the developing fetus in the woman’s uterus. The two white arrows indicate the point where the woman’s uterine wall ruptured and the amniotic sac, which is the large white spot, spilled out. The fetus’s legs are visible in the amniotic sac.

Credit: The New England Journal of Medicine ©2016.

Just looking at this image might give the impression that this woman’s baby literally kicked its feet right out of her uterus. But moms-to-be with kicky babies can rest easy — the MRI image showcases an extremely rare condition that was not caused by a baby’s kick.

The 33-year-old woman had developed a 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) tear in the wall of her uterus, and through the tear, part of the amniotic sac measuring 7.5 by 4.7 by 3.5 inches (19  by 12 by 9 cm) popped out, according to a brief report of her case. The amniotic sac is the fluid-filled membrane found in the uterus that contains the growing and developing fetus.

But the woman had no symptoms that any of this was going on. She didn’t learn of her condition until she came in for a routine ultrasound when she was 22-weeks pregnant, according to the report, published today (Dec. 21) in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Dr. Pierre-Emmanuel Bouet, an OB/GYN at the Angers University Hospital in France and the lead author of the report, said he had never seen a case like this before. [Here’s a Giant List of the Strangest Medical Cases We’ve Covered]

Indeed, the condition is “extremely rare,” Bouet told Live Science. There have only been 26 cases reported in the literature, he added.

This was the woman’s sixth pregnancy, the doctors wrote in the report. In all of her five previous pregnancies, the woman delivered the babies via Caesarean section (C-section), they wrote.

In fact, it was the woman’s five previous C-sections that increased her risk for a uterine tear, Bouet said. It seems that her C-sections had weakened the wall of the uterus, he said. The tear didn’t occur at the exact location of the earlier C-sections, but close by, he added.

The area of the uterus that had scarred after the C-sections was strong, but the regions around this scar were fragile, Bouet said. The forces and pressures on the uterus that occur during pregnancy ultimately led to the tear, he said.

Upon discovering the woman’s uterine tear and protruding amniotic sac, the doctors informed the woman and her husband of the potential risks, which included additional uterine tearing, preterm birth and a serious pregnancy complication called placenta accreta, in which the placenta doesn’t detach from the uterine wall after birth.

It was also possible for the amniotic sac to rupture, Bouet said. If this occurred, the doctors would make sure that the fetus still had a heartbeat, and if so, would perform an emergency C-section, Bouet said. The doctors would also have to consider the age of the fetus: if it was too early in the pregnancy, the odds of survival would be lower, he said.

The woman and her husband decided to continue the pregnancy with close monitoring, according to the report. Bouet said that the woman was not put on bed rest during this time, and that she could do some moderate walking.

By 30 weeks, the tear in the woman’s uterus grown by 2 inches (5 cm) and the portion of the amniotic sac outside the uterus had grown in size, the doctors wrote in the report. At that point, not only did this part of the amniotic sac contain the fetus’s legs, but also the abdomen, they wrote.

The doctors and the woman decided to deliver the baby via C-section. The baby boy was healthy, and weighed in at 3 lbs. (1.385 kilograms), according to the report. After delivery, the doctors repaired the woman’s uterus, and she returned home from the hospital after five days.

The doctors last checked in with mother and baby six months after he was born, and noted that they were doing well.

Originally published on Live Science.

Woman’s Scalp Was Torn from Her Head in Horrifying Accident

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Woman’s Scalp Was Torn from Her Head in Horrifying Accident

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Woman's Scalp Was Torn from Her Head in Horrifying Accident

Two months after the woman’s injury. The scar from the surgery can be seen running from ear to ear.

Credit: BMJ Case Reports/CC BY-NC 4.0

Editor’s Note: This story contains some graphic images.

In an awful accident, a woman in Japan had her entire scalp pulled off her head, according to a new report of the woman’s case.

The accident occurred when the 64-year-old woman’s long hair got caught in a spinning machine, tearing her scalp away from her skull. The machine tore a line around the woman’s skull, level with the top of her nose. The top thirds of both of her ears were part of the scalp portion that was ripped away, as was her entire right eyebrow and half of her left eyebrow.

When the woman came to the hospital, she was clearly conscious, and her scalp was in a plastic bag surrounded with ice, said lead author Dr. Jun Karibe, a plastic surgeon at Yamanashi University Hospital in Japan, who treated the woman. At the hospital, the doctors removed the hair from the scalp and rinsed it with a saline, or salt water, solution, Karibe said. Then, the scalp was sterilized before the reattachment surgery began. [27 Oddest Case Reports]

Four hours after the injury took place, plastic surgeons had successfully reattached her scalp to her head, according to the report, which was published yesterday (Oct. 24) in the journal BMJ Case Reports.

An image of the woman's scalp after the injury took place. The woman's eyebrows are visible to the left of image and the top of her right ear is visible at the bottom of the image.

An image of the woman’s scalp after the injury took place. The woman’s eyebrows are visible to the left of image and the top of her right ear is visible at the bottom of the image.

Credit: BMJ Case Reports/CC BY-NC 4.0

The type of injury, which doctors refer to as “scalp avulsion,” is extremely rare in Japan, according to the case report. Indeed, it was the first time that a “whole scalp avulsion” was reported in the country, Karibe told Live Science.

Though gruesome, scalp alvusion injuries are not life-threatening in most cases, Karibe said.

Repairing the injury involves, in part, reattaching blood vessels and nervesin the scalp to the head. The doctors were able to successfully reattach four large main blood vessels, two on the right side of the head and two on the left. However, after the operation, the doctors found that blood flowed only through the vessels on the right side of the head — but that these vessels were able to adequately supply blood to the entire scalp. The doctors were unable to reattach any of the woman’s nerves.

A CT scan of the woman's head several months after the injury shows blood flow in two of the blood vessels on the right side of her head, in the image on the left. That same blood flow is not seen in the image on the right, which shows the left side of her head.

A CT scan of the woman’s head several months after the injury shows blood flow in two of the blood vessels on the right side of her head, in the image on the left. That same blood flow is not seen in the image on the right, which shows the left side of her head.

Credit: BMJ Case Reports/CC BY-NC 4.0

Two weeks after the operation, the woman developed a lesion, 3 by 4 centimeters (1.2 by 1.6 inches) near her left eye where her skin tissue was dying. The skin in this area was removed, and the doctors performed a skin graft, transferring healthy skin to the area from a different part of her body.

By two months after the initial operation, signs pointed to the woman making a good recovery: “Exuberant hair growth was evident,” the doctors wrote, though they added that there was less hair growth on the left side of her head, perhaps due to trouble with the blood vessels on that side.

A year after the injury, the woman’s hair had grown “sufficiently.” In addition, she was able to open and close both of her eyelids and move her right eyebrow. And though the doctors weren’t able to attach the woman’s nerves, she regained sensation in the front and on both sides of her head, and was able to contract her forehead muscle — these improvements suggest that the nerves recovered on their own, according to the report.

One year after the injury, the woman's hair had grown back and she was able to open and close her eyes.

One year after the injury, the woman’s hair had grown back and she was able to open and close her eyes.

Credit: BMJ Case Reports/CC BY-NC 4.0

“We were surprised to see the result of [the] operation,” Karibe said. “My colleagues, including me, didn’t expect this amazing recovery.”

The woman was also pleased. She told the doctors she was “very satisfied with the aesthetic result,” and noted that she had “no problems in [her] daily life activities,” according to the report.

This story was updated to include quotes from the case report author.

Originally published on Live Science.