When the carpenter walked into the emergency room, only the head of the 3-inch nail could be seen against the red inside surface of his lower eyelid. The eyelid was pinned open.
An X-ray and CAT scan revealed that the nail, shot from a coworker's nail gun, had missed half a dozen vital areas by an eighth of an inch.
"This has got to be the luckiest guy in the world. He is the luckiest guy in the world," said Dr. Anne Hayman, the Baylor College of Medicine radiology professor who X-rayed the 56-year-old man last year.
The CAT scan and X-ray images of the extraordinary accident are now being used in medical classes.
The man's name remains sealed in the records of Ben Taub General Hospital in Houston, though his X-ray was published in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine. It and a new feature -- an "Images in Clinical Medicine" entry published only on the Internet -- can be seen at the journal's Web site.
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