Fishing in Papa crocodile bite

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Chief Complaint: Right lower extremity injury while spear fishing

History of Present Illness: A 33-year-old male went river fishing with a homemade spear and diving mask in Papua New Guinea. He felt sudden pain and tugging to the right lower extremity. He was near shore and grabbed a tree root. He held on for dear life as he was being pulled back into the water. It felt as if his foot had been torn off. He did not let go of the tree root and eventually the pulling force ceased. He got out of the water and walked 2 miles unassisted before finding help and hospital transport.

Extremity exam: The foot is well perfused, with sensation intact distally. Minimal movement of toes, no other foot movement.

X-ray: Reveals no fracture

Crocodile bite

The photo with the foot being held up shows the width of the crocodile mouth.

Crocodiles kill their prey by drowning. If this man would have let go of the root he would have died.

This wound was managed with a thorough washout under anesthesia, IV antibiotics, and splinting. The wounds was left open and transport was arranged to a surgical facility.

Do not swim alone in water inhabited by crocodiles.

Crocodile, Alligator, and Caiman Range by Country

Michael Parsa, MD

Michael Parsa, MD

Associate Professor and Clerkship Director
Department of Emergency Medicine
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso
Michael Parsa, MD

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