updated 10/5/2007 4:11:15 PM ET 2007-10-05T20:11:15

Doctors in New Zealand lost a man’s false teeth during his back surgery but found them four days later — stuck in his throat.

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The 81-year-old entered the hospital in February 2005, and his upper dentures were removed before the operation, a Health and Disability Commission report said Friday.

But somehow, the report said, the false teeth got back into the heavily sedated man’s mouth. A neurological condition allowed him to cope with having them in his throat for days — though not easily.

After the operation, the patient complained of “extreme pain,” nurses noticed his voice was husky and he couldn’t eat very much, the report said.

Doctors put a laryngoscope down his throat, found the missing denture plate and removed the teeth.

Experts said a cyst in the center of the man’s spinal cord had pushed on his brain stem, damaging the parts responsible for swallowing and the feeling in the back of his mouth.

The man recovered but died within a couple of years from unrelated respiratory illness, the report said. The commission did not identify the hospital, the town or any of the people involved.

The Health and Disability Commission investigates complaints of medical malpractice and medical error. Its probes are often extensive and take many months.

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