How Could Cement Appear in a Heart?

I found a very interesting story in the news recently.

A 56-year-old man who had chest pains and had been having trouble breathing for two days went to the emergency room. What doctors found was surprising — a four-inch piece of cement was lodged in his heart.

A week earlier, the man had undergone a procedure to treat what doctors call a “vertebral compression fracture,” a painful condition in which part of a spine bone (vertebra) collapses into itself. The treatment for this condition is a kyphoplasty, the injection of a special type of cement into the vertebra to restore its proper height. This procedure is generally considered safe because less than 2% of people experience a complication. But one possible risk is cement leakage from the bone into other areas, causing a blockage or “embolism” of a blood vessel. 

In this case, that’s exactly what happened — the cement leaked from the bone into his veins, hardened and embolized, then migrated to his heart. 

After an X-ray and CT scan which showed a foreign body, the man underwent emergency heart surgery. That’s when doctors found the thin, sharp piece of cement that had torn through the heart’s right upper chamber and punctured his right lung. The embolism was removed, the heart tear was repaired, and fortunately there were no further complications. A month later, he was nearly fully recovered.

Who would’ve thought?

Taken from “How did cement end up in a man’s heart?” by Rachael Rettner (

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