Boy whose tongue got stuck in a juice bottle when he tried to lick the last few drops has it freed by same technique used to open stiff wine bottles

  • His parents tried to yank and twist his tongue but it remained jammed in bottle 
  • Doctors inserted a thin cannula into the bottleneck  and pumped in 60ml of air
  • This build-up of pressure allowed the tongue to be eventually squeezed out  

A seven-year-old boy whose tongue got stuck in a bottle when he tried to lick out the last drops of juice was freed using a clever trick involving an injection of air.

After his parents’ attempt to yank and twist the bottle off failed, the distressed and drooling child was taken to Auf der Bult Children’s Hospital in Hanover, Germany.

Previous methods of freeing a tongue have involved cutting through the glass, which could be dangerous.

But doctors Christoph Eich and Simone Arndt – inspired by a trick for uncorking a stiff wine bottle – used a cannula to pump air into the bottle which built up pressure and helped them ease out the boy’s tongue.

When the boy’s tongue finally came out, it had turned an unsightly blue because of the prolonged cut in blood circulation. 

A seven-year-old boy’s tongue became jammed in a juice bottle after he tried to lick out the last few drops

When the boy’s tongue finally came out, it had turned an unsightly blue because of the prolonged cut in blood circulation (pictured three hours after liberation)

The procedure used by the doctors involved inserting a thin 70mm plastic button cannula – a small tube which delivers fluid or gas into the body.

When the doctors moved the bottle slightly to the right, they could see where the neck’s rim touched the swollen tongue.

At this point, they inserted the cannula which was connected to a 20ml syringe via a plastic tube.

This allowed air to be inserted into the bottle and, after 60ml had been pumped in, enough pressure had been built to squeeze the boy’s tongue out.

Throughout the procedure, the seven-year-old was mildly sedated with 0.04mg of midazolam and 0.4mg of esketamine.

After his tongue was freed, he was given prednisolone and ibuprofen and admitted to a paediatric surgical ward as a precaution for 24 hours. 

Doctors inserted a cannula which was connected a 20ml syringe via a tube that allowed air to be pumped into the bottle

The boy (pictured immediately after liberation) had been drooling but luckily had a clear airway throughout the procedure


Wine popping is a useful trick for opening bottles with stiff corks.

It involves inserting a hollow spike through the centre of the cork.

Via a gas cannister or a syringe, a sudden blast of air fired through the spike will create a sudden burst of pressure inside the bottle.

This build in pressure will dislodge the cork and open the wine.

Most commercial products use carbon dioxide gas cannisters to avoid spoiling the wine’s taste.

But in this case in Germany, pumping air into the seven-year-old’s mouth would have no adverse effects.

Dr Eich initially tried to use the cannula as an airway to release the supposedly pressurised vacuum inside the bottle.

But when this had no effect, he then decided to pump air into it with the syringe.

This method was recycled from a trick used to uncork a wine bottle which Dr Eich had used before.

The first author said: ‘In our case, the idea to attempt to inject air into the bottle to produce positive pressure was inspired by my personal recollection of successfully uncorking a wine bottle while working as an anaesthetic registrar, with the use of a syringe-and-cannula technique on an occasion when no corkscrew was available!’   

Wine poppers are a widely available tool used for opening wine. It involves a hollow spike piercing the cork, before releasing a sudden burst of gas which increases the pressure and pops out the cork.  

Although rare, tongue entrapment usually occurs in school children unaware of the consequences of tongue strangulation.

After 14 days, the boy’s tongue had made a full recovery and returned to its normal pink colour

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