Throat & Voice

Fish bone from an Unagi (Eel) meal stuck in the throat? You might be surprised!

February 3, 2020
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Recently, Dr Gan was called to the Accident and Emergency Department at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital late at night to see a patient, Ms A, who complained of sore throat after eating some Unagi (Eel) with rice at a local Japanese restaurant. She experienced a sharp poking sensation on the left side of her throat and neck region which was worse on swallowing.

 

On examination, there was an approximately 1.5 cm curvilinear transparent Unagi bone stuck in her left tonsil. This was removed with a pair of forceps with immediate relieve of her symptoms.

 

 

Small transparent Unagi bone that was removed from Ms A’s left tonsil

 

 

Unagi is a freshwater eel that is often served in Japanese restaurants. It is most commonly served as a grilled eel fillet (coated with a sweet sauce) with rice (Unadon or “eel bowl”) or as a sushi wrapped in rice and cucumber (Unakyu). Most people eating Unagi will never think about the possibility of bones that may get stuck in the throat. Although the filleted eel is deboned, there can still be many fine tiny bones in an unagi. Most of the time, these fine bones are harmless if swallowed. However, there are occasions where there are larger bones left in the Unagi that should not be swallowed. Hence, it is best to avoid putting fish with rice in your mouth as it makes it more difficult to dissect out any leftover bones in the fish. Ms A was fortunate that her bone was embedded in her left tonsil which was easily accessible by Dr Gan.

 

Common sites where fish bones get stuck in the throat include the tonsils, back of the tongue (near the voice box region) and the food pipe (esophagus).  Fish bone stuck in the tonsils can be removed by a General Practitioner or by an Accident & Emergency Doctor. For bones that are stuck deeper in the throat (e.g. at the back part of the tongue) or in the food pipe (esophagus), these need to be removed by an ENT Specialist.

When Should You See An ENT Specialist In Singapore?

  • Any Ear, Nose or Throat symptoms that you are troubled with or concerned of
  • Persistent blocked nose with mouth breathing or snoring

Dr Gan Eng Cern

Dr Gan Eng Cern is a fellowship trained Consultant Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT) Surgeon. He completed his ENT training in Singapore and obtained his subspecialty training in Rhinology and Endoscopic Skull Base Surgery at the world renowned St Paul’s Sinus Centre, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. He was also a Senior Clinical Lecturer at Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine at the National University of Singapore. Dr Gan was an avid researcher with numerous publications in reputable international ENT journals. He was also an invited speaker and surgical dissection teacher in many ENT conferences and courses.

Awards

  • 2020 – Reader’s Choice Gold Award for Best ENT Specialist
    (Expat Living Singapore)
  • 2016 – Best Educator Award (Eastern Health Alliance)
  • 2016 – “Wow” Award (Patient Compliment)
  • 2014 – Eastern Health Alliance Caring Award – Silver
  • 2014 – 19th Yahya Cohen Memorial Lectureship (awarded by the College
    of Surgeons, Academy of Medicine Singapore for best scientific surgical
    paper)
  • 2012 – Human Manpower Development Award (Ministry of Health,
    Singapore)
  • 2007 – Singhealth Best Doctor Award

Qualifications

  • MBBS - Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia)
  • MRCS (Edin) - Member of the Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh, United Kingdom
  • MMed (ORL) - Master of Medicine in ENT (National University of Singapore)
  • FAMS - Fellow of the Academy of Medicine Singapore

Why Choose Dr Gan Eng Cern

1

Reliable & Reputable ENT Expert

Experienced and patient ENT Specialist who has your best interests at heart. We aim to provide you with accessible and specialized care for any ENT condition in a comfortable setting.

2

Friendly & Helpful Clinic Staff

Our friendly staff will assist you to the best of our ability and we are happy to accept most insurance providers and assist with E-filing with relevant insurance providers or Medisave.

3

Advanced ENT Equipment & Fully Equipped Facility

Our ENT Specialist, Dr Gan Eng Cern, will be able to diagnose and offer personalised treatments for your specific ENT condition. You can expect a high level of ENT care in a spacious setting with in-house minor surgical, endoscopy, allergy testing and microscopy services.

4

Financial Options

There are various financial options available for you to ensure that you are able to receive the most optimal treatment and care. Our ENT clinic staff will be able to assist you with your medical insurance claims and work with your chosen healthcare organization to minimize the hassle and paperwork required. In some cases, you may be able to utilise the funds in your Medisave account to defray part of the costs of your treatment. As our clinic is accredited by the Medisave board, we are able to process your claims from your Medisave for certain clinic procedures.

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