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'Self-Embedding' a Troubling Trend Among Teens

Patients typically wound themselves, then place objects in the wound, researchers say

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Self-embedding, a disorder where people wound themselves and then place objects in the wound, is an increasing problem among American teens, especially girls, researchers say.

Slated to report their findings Wednesday at the Radiological Society of North America's annual meeting in Chicago, doctors said that ultrasound and other minimally invasive imaging techniques can help guide the removal of these foreign objects from the wounds. This is one of the first-ever reports of self-embedding, the authors said.

Self-embedding disorder is typically done without suicidal intent. Objects are used to puncture the skin or are embedded into the wound after cutting.

In the study, interventional pediatric radiologists used ultrasound and/or fluoroscopic guidance to remove 52 embedded foreign objects from nine teenagers with the disorder. The objects removed included needles, staples, paper clips, glass, wood, plastic, graphite (pencil lead), crayon and stone.

Ultrasound allowed the finding of objects such as wood, crayons and plastic, which are not normally detectable on X-rays. Small incisions in the skin were made to remove the objects without fragmentation or complications.

"Radiologists are in a unique position to be the first to detect self-embedding disorder, make the appropriate diagnosis, and mobilize the health-care system for early and effective intervention and treatment," principal investigator William E. Shiels II, chief of the department of radiology at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, said in a news release issued by the conference organizer.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about emotional issues for teenagers.

-- Kevin McKeever

SOURCE: Radiological Society of North America, news release, Dec. 3, 2008

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