Doctors in southern China have removed a half-metre live eel from the stomach of a middle-aged man who inserted the elongated fish in himself supposedly as a folk remedy for constipation, according to a local newspaper.

The patient told doctors in Guangzhou that he had heard word on the street that his condition could be effectively relieved or even cured by a living eel, the Guangzhou Daily reported on Tuesday.

He was hospitalised last week when the live fish began to wreak havoc on his intestines after he inserted it in his anus, the report said.

Eels have pointed jaws, sharp teeth and a slender body that moves in waves, allowing them to burrow efficiently through sand, mud and pebbles. The eel used by the man was said to have a head as large as a ping-pong ball.

Advertisement

One doctor said that when the man arrived at the hospital, his stomach was inflated like an air balloon, causing sharp pain.

In surgery they found the animal had broken through the intestines and generated "a mess" in the man's abdominal cavity, "almost killing him", the doctor said.

The man almost died after he inserted a live eel as a folk cure for constipation Photo / Handout / South China Morning Post
The man almost died after he inserted a live eel as a folk cure for constipation Photo / Handout / South China Morning Post

In 2012, a New Zealand man underwent surgery in Auckland after he had an eel stuck up his bottom.

The man presented himself at the A&E department at Auckland City Hospital to explain his embarrassing problem.

The patient was sent for X-rays and a scan, which showed there was an eel lodged inside him.

"The eel was about the size of a decent sprig of asparagus and the incident is the talk of the place," a hospital source said. "Doctors and nurses have come across people with strange objects that have got stuck where they shouldn't be before, but an eel has to be a first."

It is unclear how the eel managed to be trapped inside the man.

- South China Morning Post