via Flickr by John-Morgan

When in the hand of a skilled artist, a paintbrush can be used to create beauty. But in the hands of an angry assailant, it can be shoved violently into a person’s brain.

According to a case report in the European Journal of Neurosurgery, a 49 year-old Native American male presented to the emergency room complaining of soreness in the left cheek and eye area after being hit in the face 6 hours earlier by an assailant.


A physical examination only showed a 5m cut below his left eye with some periorbital edema, but a CT scan showed a cylindrical foreign body coursing from the left orbit to the right thalamus.

5mm cut below the left eye

X-ray and CT showng intracranial penetration of foreign body

Under general anesthesia an incision was made near the man’s eyelid. The surgeon searched around and then carefully pulled out the proximal end of what appeared to be a wooden object.

The wooden object turned out to be a 10.5cm–long paintbrush, shoved in bristles first!

Amazingly the patient was discharged neurologically and ophthamologically intact.

Lesson: never criticize a sensitive artist.

[Source: Mandat, T. S., Honey, D. A. & Sharma, B. R. (2005) Artistic Assault: an unusual penetrating head injury reported as a trivial facial trauma. Acta Neurochir. 147: 331-333.]