Rectal examinations can improve your hearing

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: (Published 11 January 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:85
  1. Frances Marr, F1 doctor, North Tyneside Hospital, Tyne and Wear

    A profoundly deaf, elderly man was admitted to the emergency care centre where I work. Constipation seemed to be the primary medical problem, although communication was somewhat difficult because of his severe lack of hearing.

    It was decided on the ward round that he needed a digital rectal examination, a task that was allocated to me. After several long minutes of shouting into the patient's “good” ear, I had obtained consent from the entire admissions unit. As I began I noticed an unusual looking skin tag. Further investigation revealed that it was not, in fact, anatomical, but a hearing aid firmly wedged between his buttocks.

    The gentleman was delighted that I'd found his hearing aid because he'd been enduring a world of inconvenient silence for four days. His enthusiasm to put it in its rightful position left him disappointed when we insisted on cleaning it first.

    Rectal examinations are more useful than I thought—they can improve your hearing.

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