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Product Safety

FDA - MedWatch - Adverse Event Reporting


Health Canada - Med-Effect reporting site - English
Med-Effect - English

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Hidden dangers

Fundamentals you need to know.

Serious Complications and Issues


Daniel Hindle

A teenager in the UK died of blood poisoning after having his lip pierced during an inquest in early November 2005. His mother had complained two years before about it, and it took this long for something to be done. Daniel Hindle, 17, became seriously ill with septicaemia after he and his girlfriend had piercings on the same day. Her eyebrow piercing also became infected. His mother, Christine Anderson, broke down in the witness box as she told the inquest in Sheffield that the first she knew about the piercing was when her son walked through the door.
  • Search for body piercing inquest - November 2005
       - Sheffield, Enland tragedy
    17 year old dies two weeks after lip pierced
  • UK Health Minister signals body piercing laws - 27 February 2003
       - The government has pledged to introduce legislation to regulate body piercing following an appeal by the mother of a teenager who died after having his lip pierced.

  • Mother challenges body piercing rules - 26 February, 2003
       - A mother whose teenage son died after having his lip pierced is calling on the government to introduce tougher controls on body piercing. The mother-of-six claims her son was never asked detailed questions about his state of health, and she is angry that as he was under 18, she was never asked to give permission for the procedure.

Brain abscesses

  • Definition -
       - Intracranial abscesses are uncommon, serious, life-threatening infections. They include brain abscess and subdural or extradural empyema and are classified according to the anatomical location or the etiologic agent.
  • Brain abscess linked to tongue piercing - December 2001
       - A young Connecticut woman who recently got her tongue pierced wound up with an accessory she didn't bargain for -- a brain infection. Doctors at Yale University's School of Medicine who treated her say they believe theirs is the first report of a brain abscess associated with tongue piercing. Yale surgeons drained the abscess, and the woman underwent six weeks of intravenous antibiotic treatment and made a full recovery. Martinello said he wanted to publicize the case as a warning to those considering getting a body piercing and as an alert to those who do piercing, since they're most likely to see or hear about symptoms.

  • Piercing Questions - January 2002
       - When Carla McPhie was traveling in France last year, she decided to engage in what many consider a relatively harmless, innocent expression of spontaneity and rebellion. She got her tongue pierced. Piercings, afterall, have become a common trend among young people. Some even consider them sexy. But there was nothing sexy about what happened to Carla. It started with severe headaches, then she had a seizure. Doctors in Toronto soon discovered she had an infection, not just in her tongue, but in her brain. Streptococcus was found to be the cause of the infection, and that pointed right to the tongue piercing.

Studies and Reviews

  • Body Piercing - Medical Concerns with Cutting-Edge Fashion    - OBJECTIVE: To review the current information on medical complications, psychological implications, and legislative issues related to body piercing, a largely unregulated industry in the United States. We conclude that body piercing is an increasingly common practice in the United States, that this practice carries substantial risk of morbidity, and that most body piercing in the United States is being performed by unlicensed, unregulated individuals. Primary care physicians are seeing growing numbers of patients with body pierces. Practitioners must be able to recognize, treat, and counsel patients on body piercing complications and be alert to associated psychological conditions in patients who undergo body piercing. (Full Adobe .pdf file is also available). You will have to register with Blackwell Synergy for full text or Adobe .pdf.

  • Navel gazing: a clinical glimpse at body piercing
       - CMAJ ´ March 20, 2001    
    In the wake of the recent outbreak in Toronto of 75 cases of hepatitis B from contaminated electroencephalogram needles, Health Canada established comprehensive infection control guidelines for practitioners who perform body piercing. Unique complications can result from body piercing, including endocarditis, paraphimosis and urethral rupture. However, the most common are infection, contact dermatitis, and hypertrophic scars and keloids.

  • Body Piercing: Issues in Adolescent Health
       - JSPN - April 2004    
    What nurses need to know about care of body-piercing sites and the risks to adolescent patients. There is no mention of deaths in this article.

  • Body piercing - Education and Debate
       - BMJ December 18, 1999    
    Henry Ferguson, editor, Body Art
    Some of us will always be drawn towards experiencing new sensations through piercing or similar body alterations, but recent media attention means that it doesn't feel a fraction as kinky as it did when I was a teenager and wanted to pierce my nipple. Even its most enthusiastic devotees find piercing's appeal difficult to explain, but that's just as true of pot holing, golf, crosswords, and train spotting.

  • Tongue piercing and associated oral and dental complications    - Dental Traumatology - Dec. 2005
        The present study assessed the prevalence of oral piercing among young adults and revealed the types and rate of complications following oral piecing, as well as the awareness of the complications. Among the participants, 225 (57.8%) were unaware of the dangers of intra-oral piercing.

  • The urologist's guide to genital piercing
       - British Journal of Urology - Feb. 2003
        Genital piercing has gradually become more 'popular' and may sometimes come as a surprise to the urologist who is examining or undertaking a procedure on the area in question. The first article in this section will be helpful as an 'aide memoire' to urologists. In the second article, the important question of premature ejaculation is addressed in a way that may be helpful to readers. (Warning these are graphic medical pictures) There are many links to articles about complications.

  • Body Piercing and Sports: An Opening for Trouble?
        What happens when people wearing metal rings or other ornaments through various parts of their bodies play rough-and-tumble sports? Accepting a young person's piercing decision does not mean healthcare providers should not talk to patients about the health risks, she says. "We need to make them more responsible for their skin care associated with body art, especially piercing."

Regulations are useless