Archiv für September 2006

When carnivorous plants get hungry

September 30, 2006 - Markus Hoenicka
Nepenthes truncata is one of those carnivorous plants that carry leaves forming pitchers full of a digestive liquid (some nice images are here). The upper edges of the pitchers are coloured attractively, and the scent of the pitchers makes them even more interesting landing places for insects. Being unaware of the plants intentions, some of the insects slip into the pitcher. They are kept from crawling up the side walls by hairs pointing downwards. Eventually the insects drown and are slowly digested by the plant, giving some relief to their nitrogen cravings. Now the botanical garden of the French town Lyon reported that one of their pitcher plants managed to catch a mouse. The half-digested rodent was found one morning as the staff noticed a somewhat strong smell. They also reported that the largest animal found so far in these pitchers were cockroaches of approx. 4 cm (approx. 1.5 inch) in length. The pitchers of this species can reach up to 50 cm (approx. 20 inch) in length, so you might want to keep a close eye on your pets next time you visit your local botanical garden. The story (in German, with a picture) is right here.

Living with a toothpick in your liver

September 06, 2006 - Markus Hoenicka
Looks like this is going to be an obsession for me. But once you've started to follow how happily people eat toothpicks, you end up finding new and interesting cases everywhere. This report, published in the Journal of Clinical Ultrasound (abstract), tells the story of a toothpick that penetrated the duodenum and went right into the liver. The patient reported to the clinic complaining about moderate fever and right flank pain. The heart rate and blood pressure were elevated. An abdominal sonography revealed an object in the liver right next to the duodenum. This diagnosis was confirmed by a CT scan, which nicely showed the foreign body in the liver. The patient refused surgery, so the doctors resorted to treat the infection caused by the toothpick. After a treatment with two different antibiotics the symptoms subsided and all other related diagnostic markers went back to normal. The patient was reinvestigated 2 years after the incident. He was asymptomatic, still carrying the toothpick in his liver.