Miami surgeons save boy with fishing spear imbedded in brain

Trauma surgeons at hospitals in Miami and across the country are doing amazing work when it comes brain injury cases. An incident in which doctors at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami saved a South Florida boy who had a fishing spear discharged into his skull provides yet more evidence of this.

According to a report on, trauma surgeons at the hospital, through quick action, saved the life of a 16-year-old boy who had a 3-foot-long fishing spear embedded in his skull. The accident happened when the boy’s friend accidentally discharged a spear gun that he was trying to load.

Surgeons faced a challenge with this case: The barbs in a spear that make it stick into a fish also made it more difficult to remove from the 16-year-old’s brain. Doctors decided to use a high-speed drill to create a hole about two inches in diameter at the exit point of the boy’s skull and a second hole about one inch in diameter at the entry point.

The doctors were able to stop the spear’s barbs from unfolding fully in the boy’s brain, and removed the spear without it causing any serious damage.

The surgeons told the SunSentinel that the boy was fortunate: The chances of the spear entering the brain in such a way as to cause only minor damage — which is what happened in this case — are about one in 10 million, according to the medical team.

Two weeks after the accident, the boy’s only symptom is a small amount of weakness in the left side of his body, according to the story.

The lead surgeon on the case told the SunSentinel that there is a good chance the boy will make a “perfect” recovery from the accident, with the uninjured part of the boy’s brain taking over functions normally controlled by the damaged part.

Source: Miami Herald, “How doctors helped a South Florida boy with a fishing spear through his skull,” Anna Edgerton, June 24, 2012