As I read about the melamine-tainted pet food, and about the hundreds in Panama killed by phony glycerin from China, I remembered a patient I once saw.
She was a dancer in her 40s who had hobbled into the emergency room one October night with a painful, bulging mass in her groin. I gently put my fingers to it. It was beet-sized and firm. When I placed my stethoscope on it, I heard gurgling. This was, I told her, a strangulating hernia — a rent in her abdominal wall had trapped a loop of intestine. The swelling was the knot of bowel; the gurgling, the fluid inside.
By Atul Gawande
17 May 2007