Huaihua-A man lived almost 20 years with a plastic pen cap lodged in one of his lungs after he inhaled it as a child and forgot about it. Doctors found and removed the partially-dissolved cap after the man started coughing up blood and went to hospital.

When they showed it to them he recalled accidentally inhaling the pointed object when he was a youngster in the 1990s.

He suffered fits of coughing throughout his childhood and early 20s, but never thought that it was due to the pen cap.

Doctors were stunned when they found the object inside the patient, identified only by his surname, Wang, at a hospital in China.

The man, from Huaihua in south central Hunan province, told them he had been a chronic sufferer of coughing and chest discomfort since he was six or seven.

But he never connected the dots.

The man said: “I’d always coughed and had lung infections, but this was the first time I’ve checked myself into a major hospital because I started coughing blood.”

Doctor Zhou Kangren and his team found through scans that a foreign object had been obstructing his airway, which contributed to his difficulty in breathing.

An endoscopy was performed on Wang and the half-dissolved object, which resembles a pen cap, was removed.

It was only after being shown the item that Wang recalled he had accidentally swallowed it as a child.

His symptoms have since been relieved following surgery and he was expected to be released from hospital in a few days.