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Boston Hospital Treats Man After Weed Trimmer Shoots Nail in Eye

According to a recent news report from the Calgary Herald, a man was operating his string trimmer (commonly called a “weed eater” or weed whacker”) when it picked up a stray nail and threw it into his eye.

eye-macro-1189098-m.jpgThe 27-year-old landscaper could have suffered a fate much worse when the three-inch nail penetrated his eye and traveled into his brain. A neurosurgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) who treated victim said when you looked at him, all you could see was the head of the nail sticking out of his right eye.

This medical case history made into the New England Medical Journal as doctors used a new type of CT scanner to get detailed imaging of his eye and brain, as they were unable to determine the length or path of the nail from an external examination. One radiologist who helped perform the scan said the nail was very deep and had almost punctured victim’s other eye.

On the one hand, surgeons were relieved to find the nail had not punctured the globe of his eye, which would have resulted in permanent loss of vision. On the other hand, they became very concerned when they learned from the CT scan the nail was pinned against a major artery to the brain and another artery that provided blood supply to both eyes.

They were very worried if they removed the nail, it would cause blood to come shooting from the artery, causing possible brain damage and loss of vision in both eyes. They developed an extensive plan on how to proceed, with one surgeon extracting the nail and two other surgeons standing in the operating room ready to operate on victim’s head and neck in an instant, should blood start to flow from the arteries.

Fortunately, they were able to remove the nail, and the arteries remained intact. They gave victim a tetanus shot and antibiotics to prevent an infection from developing and continued to monitor his condition. Eight weeks following the incident, victim had normal vision in both eyes and no brain trauma. Surgeons believe if the nail had traveled one millimeter higher, he likely would have suffered a traumatic brain injury and loss of vision.

While doctors were amazed by the results of the incident, they said nails penetrating the skull are not as uncommon as one might imagine and normally result from a nail gun accident.

Our Boston personal injury attorneys would first like to take this opportunity to echo what his doctors said and advise anyone using power tools of any kind to always wear adequate eye protection to prevent incidents such as these.

Unfortunately, in the case of some accidents resulting in serious personal injury, an equipment operator can do everything he or she can think of to take adequate safety precautions and still suffer the injury. In some cases, it is just the nature of the work. Some activities are inherently dangerous, and there is nothing that can be done to prevent all injuries. However, in some cases the manufacturer of a particular piece of equipment could have prevented the accident by adequately warning users of known dangers or providing safety systems to prevent an accident, when possible.


If you are injured in an accident in Boston, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment — 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:

Man escapes big harm after power trimmer sends nail into his eye , May 13, 2015, Calgary Herald
More Blog Entries:

New Guidelines for Identifying Causes of Newborn Brain Injury, October 21, 2014, Boston Personal Injury Lawyer Blog