'Marble-like objects' found in teen's stomach; doctors shocked

Josh Dutton
·News Reporter
·1-min read

Doctors were surprised to discover “multiple marble-like objects” in a boy’s stomach when he was rushed to the emergency room with acute appendicitis.

The boy, 15, was taken to hospital with abdominal pain but didn’t have a fever, according to his case published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

He underwent an ultrasound and doctors found “multiple marble-like objects” over the epigastrium, which is in the upper part of the abdomen.

An ultrasound shows tapioca pearls inside a teenage boy's chest cavity.
Doctors found marble-like objects in the boy's abdomen. Source: Annals of Emergency Medicine

“Abdominal computed tomography (CT) showed an engorged appendix, which confirmed the diagnosis of acute appendicitis,” researchers wrote.

But the doctors were surprised by something else they saw in the scan.

“The CT imaging also incidentally revealed multiple small round hyperdensities in the distended stomach.”

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Mystery of round object solved

It turns out the marble-like objects in his stomach were tapioca pearls – a common ingredient in bubble tea or pearl milk tea.

The boy told doctors he had drank bubble tea the night before he was hospitalised.

A CT scan shows tapioca pearls in a boy's abdomen. Also pictured is a glass of bubble tea.
A CT scan shows the pearls lodged in the boy's chest. He had been drinking bubble tea. Source: Annals of Emergency Medicine

“To our knowledge, there is no literature describing an ultrasonographic finding of tapioca pearls,” researchers wrote.

While in this case it appears the boy’s symptoms were not caused by the bubble tea, others haven’t been as lucky.

Last year, a teenage girl landed in a coma from drinking the tea after her blood sugar levels spiked to roughly 25 times higher than normal.

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