A Chinese man was lucky to survive after he allegedly inserted a live eel to "cure his constipation".

The fish wriggled inside the man, said to be in his 50s, and tore his intestines apart before dying and getting stuck in his abdomen, the Daily Mail reports.

The man reportedly sought medical help at the Huangjiang Hospital in Dongguan, where he was rushed into surgery.

Dr Li from the hospital told local media: "We suspected that there was a foreign object in his abdominal cavity from a CT scan. But we couldn't tell where it came from."

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The eel ruptured his colon. Photo / Guangdong Television
The eel ruptured his colon. Photo / Guangdong Television

According to a post from the hospital, doctors were shocked to find an 40cm-long eel that was the "thickness of an adult thumb".

The patient survived the surgery but waited three days before revealing to doctors he took the drastic action to deal with his bowel problems.

Chinese television showed graphic footage of the eel being removed.

Video was released showing the eel being removed. Photo / Guangdong Television
Video was released showing the eel being removed. Photo / Guangdong Television

Li said: "The eel entered through anus and rectum. I think it had quickly torn a hole already while in the colon."

He said that the man received surgery just in time.

"Because it was a live eel, the possibility of death is very high if the surgery was not done timely."

The case has disturbing echoes of case that hit headlines here in New Zealand in 2012.

In that case, a man sought emergency treatment at hospital in Auckland with an eel stuck in his backside.

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The unnamed individual 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.

How the Herald on Sunday reported the NZ case. Image / File
How the Herald on Sunday reported the NZ case. Image / File

"The eel was about the size of a decent sprig of asparagus and the incident is the talk of the place," a hospital source told the Herald on Sunday in 2012.

"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 believed medics successfully removed it and the man was later discharged.

There are two main types of eel found in New Zealand - the shortfin and the longfin.

Eels migrate up streams as elvers to find suitable adult habitat. After many years they migrate to the Pacific Ocean to breed and die.

Eels are secretive, nocturnal and prefer habitats with plenty of cover. They hunt by smell rather than sight.