Arizona man impaled through skull with pruning shears

TUCSON, Ariz (Reuters) - An 86-year-old Arizona man who was impaled through the skull with pruning shears in a freak gardening accident was expected to make a full recovery, his doctors said.

This CT scan of the skull of an Arizona man impaled through the skull in a freak gardening accident is shown in this photograph provided to Reuters August 30, 2011 by University Medical Center. REUTERS/Courtesy University Medical Center/Handout

Leroy Luetscher dropped a pair of pruning shears while working in his yard in Green Valley, south of Tucson, on July 30, the University Medical Center in Tucson said in a news release.

The shears landed in the ground point downward. When Luetscher bent down to pick them up, he overbalanced and fell face-down on the handle, which punched through his eye socket and went down into his neck.

Luetscher was rushed by ambulance to University Medical Center in Tucson, where a team of surgeons were able to remove the shears, rebuild the eye socket with metal mesh, and save his eye.

“You wouldn’t believe your eyes,” said Julie Wynne, a trauma surgeon who was part of the team that operated on Luetscher. “Half of the pruning shears was sticking out and the other half was in his head.”

An X-ray photograph released by the University Medical Center showed a shadow image of the shears embedded in Luetscher’s skull, with the blade resting flush against his forehead.

“You just wonder how the handle of the pruning shears got there. The handle was actually resting on the external carotid artery in his neck,” said Lynn Polonski, a clinical assistant professor of ophthalmology.

“We are so happy that Mr. Luetscher did not lose his eye or any vital structures.”

All that remains from the July 30 accident is some slight swelling of his upper and lower lids and minor double vision in the affected eye, the University Medical Center said in a news release.

University Medical Center surgeons also operated to save the life of U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords in January, after she was shot through the head at a Congressional outreach event in Tucson. Giffords is undergoing therapy in Texas.

Reporting by Tim Gaynor; Editing by Cynthia Johnston