Doctors called in a bomb squad to help them remove an unexploded firework that had lodged itself into a man’s leg.
The unnamed 44-year-old, from San Antonio, Texas, assumed the device was a dud because it failed to go off.
But an X-ray revealed the gadget, which had impaled his right thigh, could explode at any moment and he was told to remain still.
Surgeons went public with the bizarre case amid fears the scenario could crop up again in light of recent terrorist attacks.
An X-ray revealed the gadget, which had impaled his right thigh, could explode at any moment and he was told to remain still
Writing in The Journal of Emergency Medicine, a team headed by Dr Andrew Murtha advised doctors what to do in such situations.
He told LiveScience: ‘This has the potential to be, unfortunately, an event that may be encountered by a provider in an emergency room setting.
‘Understanding how to manage the patient without risking harm to other patients and the medical team is something that’s important to recognize.’
Doctors believed they were dealing with a usual case of trauma upon first glance.
But closer inspections revealed his fractured femur was caused by a mortar-type firework and he was sent to San Antonio Military Medical Center.
The patient, whose name is unknown, explained how he was unsure which part of the device had impaled him – or if it could explode.
It lodged inside his thigh when he was reloading the device.
Concerned hospital staff urgently called a team of Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians and the local fire department.
The patient was ushered off to an isolated room and was asked to remain as still as possible to slash the risks of setting the firework off.
Doctors drowned the fuse by irrigating the wound with water, advice issued to them by the fire department.
To avoid an explosion, they were also urged to avoid any form of surgery that would heat the patient’s tissue.
It is unsure what eventually happened to the firework, but it was removed without exploding and the patient was allowed home two weeks later.
Dr Lane Thaut, who also treated the patient, confirmed that everybody was ‘on edge’ when reality of the situation was laid bare.