A 30-year-old Delhi man walked into a bar to down a couple of drinks and have a good time. What he got in return was horrifying pain and a trip to the hospital.

The man ordered a cocktail that had ‘smoke’ emanating from it. He gulped it down in one go. What he did not realise is that the smoke was liquid nitrogen. Liquid nitrogen is nitrogen in a liquid state at an extremely low temperature and can cause rapid freezing on contact with living tissue. It is used as a coolant in computers and to remove warts and moles and to also instantly freeze food and drinks. It is also used in ice creams to give them a smoky effect.

The man did not know that the drink was to be had after the smoke dissipated. He immediately started experiencing excruciating pain, abdomen swelling and breathlessness. The man was admitted to a Gurgaon hospital. The doctors found that he had a huge hole in his stomach.

The man who did not want to be named told Hindustan Times, “After I had gulped down the drink, I started feeling very uncomfortable, like how you feel when there is an acid reflux. The bartender passed me another drink, and I had it, not thinking too much about the discomfort. However, within seconds, my stomach started swelling, and I was in unbearable pain. Breathing was also difficult.”

Liquid nitrogen also has the characteristic of expanding rapidly at a certain temperature. This was the cause of the abdominal swelling. Doctors performed surgery on him immediately.

Dr Amit Deepta Goswami, consultant of bariatric and minimally invasive surgery at Columbia Asia Hospital, Gurgaon, told that since the liquid nitrogen turned into gas in his stomach and did not have an outlet, it created a hole in the man’s stomach.

Dr Mriganka S Sharma, co-surgeon in the case, said to HT, “Usually perforations are smaller and can be sewed up. However, in this instance, we found that the middle and the lower parts of the stomach were open like a book. It was not possible to stitch it back. So, we had to remove the damaged portion of the stomach and connect the rest to the small intestine.” 

The man was kept on a ventilator for three days after the surgery. He has recovered now and stopped drinking.