The front view X-ray that shocked Dr Ghofran Ageely.

An unexpected sighting of SpongeBob SquarePants gave a radiologist in Saudi Arabia quite a shock.

Dr Ghofran Ageely at King Abdulaziz University Hospital had X-rayed a 16-month-old boy who had been taken to hospital after it was thought he’d swallowed something.

Ageely told Live Science the first X-ray she saw was the side view, which showed a thin object in the toddler’s throat which she thought was a pin or hair slide.

The side view, which made Dr Ageely think the foreign object was a pin.

She then checked the front view X-ray and got a shock to see SpongeBob staring right back at her.


“I screamed! I was amazed by the visible details. You can see his freckles, shoes and fingers…AMAZING,” said Ageely.

The SpongeBob figure turned out to be a necklace pendant that belonged to the boy’s sister, and doctors managed to remove it from his esophagus without any complications.

Ageely then shared the images on, so they could be discussed by other medical professionals and students.

Managing editor of Radiopaedia, Dr Andrew Dixon, says while they get a lot of interesting X-rays on the sight, the SpongeBob one is unique.

“We see a lot of amazing X-rays on our site, but this one is particularly amazing,” said Dixon.

He told Live Science the features in SpongeBob’s face are distinctive because they are made from raised lines of metal rather than just paint.

While the SpongeBob pendant is out of the ordinary, Dixon said young children often swallow or inhale foreign objects.

“As a father, I know kids put things in their mouth all the time. But as a radiologist, we see this not infrequently,” said Dixon.

While coins, bobby pins, and marbles, are some of the many things children put in their mouths, some things they swallow can be dangerous.

In 2012, parents were issued warnings after a grade 2 student from Sydney swallowed magnets the children were using as fake piercings.

The tiny magnets stuck together on either side of Joel Smith’s stomach wall, and doctors performed a five-hour surgery to remove them before they ruptured his bowel.

His mother Melinda Smith said the surgeons at Wesmead Children’s Hospital were fantastic, but it was a horrible experience.

“They showed me the X-ray showing how quickly and aggressively the magnets had joined up and said he would have been a very, very sick little boy. They said they were an hour to an hour and a half from perforating the bowel and if that happened it would have been touch and go.”

Similar magnets, which are sold as adult stress management toys, killed a toddler in Queensland the year before.


Henry Sapiecha

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